Crunch time: Labor MPs to go hard or go home
Two of the big guns of Julia Gillard’s Government confirmed this morning that they will not contest the next election.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, one of the most prominent faces of the Labor Government under both prime ministers, and Higher Education Minister Chris Evans will resign from Cabinet.
It’s big news. Roxon, particularly, is one of the most prominent public faces of this Government, having pushed through one of Labor’s signature accomplishments, the plain packaging of tobacco products. And Evans has been the leader of the party in the Senate for eight years.
But you can understand why they’ve chosen this moment to leave.
The Government seems to be cursed – see how Craig Thomson’s scores of charges rained on Gillard’s parade this week.
And who would want to spend the next eight months campaigning for a Government that probably will not last?
Gillard characterised today’s announcement was a clearing of the decks. She promoted fresh political talent, like Mark Butler and Jason Clare. And she used the moment to signal that she was not expecting Labor MPs to flood out the doors before the election.
“I believe this is the team for the next election,” she said.
Roxon and Evans’s departure officially bring the number of Labor MPs departing at the next election to seven. That’s not all of them though. It’s doubtful that Craig Thomson (an “Independent”) will contest the next election. And another independent who helped Gillard form Government, Rob Oakeshott, will announce whether he will contest in March. Victory for him would be a tough slog.
But for sitting Labor members, we’ve now crossed the “go hard or go home” rubicon. The election train’s left the station, and for your average Government MP, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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