Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean has resigned his leadership of the ALP and called a Caucus ballot for next Tuesday to choose a new leader.
“I won’t be a candidate for the leadership,” Crean said.
Crean said it had become obvious to him “that I no longer have the confidence of the leadership group and a majority of my Shadow Ministry”.
Crean has been leader of the ALP since November 2001, after Kim Beazley’s defeat in the federal election that month.
He faced a leadership challenge from Kim Beazley last June but survived by 58 votes to 34.
- Listen to Crean’s statement (7m)
Transcript of Simon Crean’s press conference.
It’s been a pretty sleepless night, but when I got up this morning I decided to call a ballot for the leadership of the Parliamentary Labor Party at next Tuesday’s Caucus meeting and I won’t be a candidate for the leadership.
It has become obvious to me that I no longer have the confidence of the leadership group and a majority of my Shadow Ministry, and in those circumstances I propose to relinquish my position in the best interests of the great party that we all serve.
The events of today come at a time when the Australian people are reaping the consequences of John Howard’s Prime Ministership:
- Rising interest rates and the beginnings of trouble in the property market.
- Plunging rates of bulk billing and a sham policy to fix it.
- The pricing of education out of the reach of ordinary Australians.
Labor can win the next election. Australia needs us to. And my strategy of building a case based on solid, fully-costed, early-released policies is working.
I hope that my successor will continue to let the Australian people know what we in the Labor Party stand for and that we’re in there fighting for their interests every day.
The Australian people are not clamouring for a change in the leadership of the Labor Party; they are clamouring for a change of government and policies that serve the many not the few.
I believe the events of today point to a fundamental difference of priorities between political and media decision makers in Canberra and the majority of the Australian people.
Nevertheless I accept the result of these events and wish my successor, whoever that may be, well.
Right throughout my life in politics and in the trade union movement I have never been afraid to take on the hard jobs.
I tackled party reform – which everyone knew we needed but no one else would touch.
I confronted the ugly politics of immigration and gave Labor a strong and compassionate policy alternative.
I rejected ‘small target’ politics and released alternative policies – which I believe will play, and still play,a decisive role in defeating John Howard.
I also faced young men and women being sent off to a dishonest war and told them the truth – that whilst I admired them, they should not be going.
This is the level of honesty with the Australian people and the toughness from the Labor Party that must continue if we are to win the next election.
I also leave my successor with one point of advice.
It comes from the millions of Labor voters, supporters and members in the suburbs and country towns of Australia.
Time is running out if we are going to save egalitarianism, compassion and the fair go in this country.
Our opponents have set themselves on a course to change this nation for the worse and we mustn’t make it easier for them.
Don’t let your personal ambition cripple the Labor Party as it puts its case for a fairer and better Australia.
Select a new leader on Tuesday and stick with him or her.
Don’t put a revolving door on the entrance of the Opposition Leader’s office. That door only leads to permanent opposition.
This ballot next Tuesday, is not only about leadership, it’s about Labor standards, Labor values and how we conduct ourselves as a party.
During the two years I have had the privilege of serving this great as party as Leader I have enjoyed the support of colleagues and members from all sections of the Labor Party as we have sought to provide an alternative vision to the Howard Government, and I want to thank everyone of them for their loyalty and their dedication.
I especially want to thank my senior front bench colleagues who have served the Parliamentary Party well and have remained loyal to me and the ideals and goals that we have pursued
I want to thank all those people – party members and members of the public – who have expressed their support for my leadership, and for the policies that we have advanced.
I want to thank especially my loyal staff for the dedication, for the hard work that they have put in over these past two years. It’s not been easy for them.
Most of all I want to thank my wife Carole and my two daughters.
Time will heal, in my view any personal hurt, thus hurt that comes from events like today.
I accept that people have behaved according to what they think are the best interests of our Party and our movement.
No one, no one, will be happier than me when my successor as Leader becomes Prime Minister next year.
It’s what Australia needs and it’s what I’m going to back.