Beazley may face challengers for leadership

Friday, January 21, 2005

Kim Beazley, Labor backbencher and former party leader, may have to face challengers in his bid to fill the vacuum left by the resignation of previous labor leader Mark Latham. Both Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd and Shadow Health minister Julia Gillard have been actively trying to shore up support for bids at the leadership.

Beazley is the only person to have declared his candidacy so far, while both Gillard and Rudd have both refused to commit to running or not running. After returning from his tour of tsunami devastated South East Asia Rudd said that, "Once I've had a shave, what I'd like to do is hit the phones and talk to colleagues".

Frontbencher Laurie Ferguson who is backing Ms Gillard told ABC radio that, "From what I gather around the place, I think there's a number of people urging her to run. Quite frankly I think Gillard is the most impressive person. I think she'll fire people. It's a new look for the party. It's a woman. It's different. We're not talking about someone who's just a trendy commodity. She's actually intelligent, articulate and strong-minded."

Regarding the leadership challenge opposition treasury spokesman Wayne Swan said: "There are a whole host of problems the Labor Party has to confront, not just the leadership. We do have to confront matters of policy, the development of our economic policy, the structure of the party - these are all important issues and they have to be on the table. But to resolve any of these issues we have to have the maximum degree of unity and that is why the leader that is elected should be elected with a very strong mandate."