Anthony Albanese has played down threats to his leadership and claimed an election this year would be a sign of weakness from Scott Morrison.
Rumblings over Mr Albanese’s leadership were reignited on Monday, after polling commissioned by the CFMEU trade union in November suggested Labor faced devastating swings in two key Hunter Valley seats.
The figures showed the ALP careering towards losses in Shortland and Paterson, both considered heartland electorates, with the party’s primary vote plummeting by 13 and 11 per cent respectively.
CFMEU official Elizabeth Doidge pounced on the numbers, calling for Mr Albanese to be replaced by frontbencher Tanya Plibersek, The Australian reported.
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CFMEU Victorian secretary John Setka has been embroiled in a battle with Mr Albanese since 2019, after Mr Setka pleaded guilty to harassing his wife.
A campaign from the Labor leader culminated in Mr Setka’s resignation from the party in October that year.
Mr Albanese said the polling showed Mr Setka “obviously felt aggrieved” by the events.
“I think he should be concentrating on his members’ interests rather than spending members’ money for a poll,” he told 4BC Radio on Tuesday.
“He’s just someone who’s outside the movement now because he’s brought it into disrepute. And I called it out, and don’t apologise for that.”
Mr Albanese said The Australian’s Newspoll showed Labor primary and two-party-preferred vote had risen since its 2019 defeat.
“I think Newspoll has a little bit more credibility than these things that are put out there in order to create trouble. But frankly, I just had a bit of a chuckle about it,” he said.
The polling comes amid speculation Prime Minister Scott Morrison could call an early election in an attempt to capitalise on dominant poll numbers.
Newspoll in November said Mr Morrison was clearly Australia’s preferred prime minister, leading Mr Albanese by 60 per cent to 28 per cent.
The Coalition also led the ALP on primary vote (43 per cent to 36 per cent) and two-party preferred (51 per cent to 49 per cent).
The Labor leader conceded there “may well be” a federal election this year, but said heading to the polls early would be a sign of weakness from the government.
“The reason would be because Scott Morrison would make a political decision that things are going to get worse be in 2022. That’s the only justification,” he told 4BC Radio.
“We have a three-year term in Australia. They’re a bit short, in my view.
“So to go to an election just over two years after we’ve had one will be a sign that the Prime Minister doesn’t have confidence in his own administration.”