Shorten likely Labor leader

Waiting his turn: Bill Shorten. Photo: Wayne HawkinsShattered Labor MPs are likely to install Bill Shorten as federal opposition leader under a consensus plan designed to avoid a rank-and-file ballot and put the bitter divisions of the Rudd-Gillard era behind them.

While former deputy prime minister Anthony Albanese remains in the frame with strong support in caucus, he is said to favour standing aside for the younger Mr Shorten to avoid a ballot.

But Labor’s hopes may be premature after Rudd loyalist and confidante Kim Carr told the ABC that the former prime minister had no intention of leaving parliament – which brought a withering response from another former minister, Craig Emerson.

He unloaded on his fellow Queenslander, describing Mr Rudd as a destabilising influence and that it was in his nature to undermine. He said Mr Rudd would inevitably stalk the next leader too.

”It is in the best interests of the party for Kevin Rudd to leave the parliament,” he told 7.30. ”It’s always been about Kevin.”

Prime minister-designate Tony Abbott, meanwhile, is considering changes to his frontbench line-up, with at least one shadow minister, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, rumoured to be dropped, and another, Sophie Mirabella, set to lose her seat.

There are also doubts about the position of NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos, who was earmarked for the finance portfolio.

Mr Abbott flew to Canberra on Monday and conferred with his leadership colleagues, including deputy Julie Bishop and Nationals leader Warren Truss.

He called on the eclectic independents who will sit in the Senate after July to recognise his mandate. ”The people voted for change, and change they’ll get,” he said.

Both sides of politics are now rapidly reconfiguring their front-benches.

Former treasurer Chris Bowen ruled himself out of the Labor leadership race on Monday but made the case to serve in the key shadow treasury spot.

Sources close to Mr Albanese say he has wide support for the leadership but is leaning towards serving in another capacity in order to see more of his family. Supporters say his experience and ability to ”throw haymakers from day one” could be vital in taking up the fight to the government, but concede he is unlikely to stand.

Mr Abbott is working on his frontbench team, to be unveiled by the weekend, but is hampered by the already low number of senior women from which to draw, and by the need to trim the overall number of ministers to meet legal requirements.

Several senior jobs have been locked in. These include the key posts of treasurer and foreign affairs, to be held by Joe Hockey and Julie Bishop. Mr Truss is a certainty for transport and infrastructure and Scott Morrison seems assured of immigration.

A complex situation has been made worse by the likely shock defeat of industry spokeswoman Ms Mirabella, who is trailing in the count by 1754 votes, and by Mr Abbott’s displeasure at the performance of Senator Fierravanti-Wells, a NSW right-wing Liberal Party powerbroker.

Another upset already confirmed is the failure of the Liberal Party to pick up Greenway, Labor’s third most marginal seat in Australia, following a horror campaign by its candidate, Jaymes Diaz.

Senior Liberals are furious that Labor’s Michelle Rowland was able to hold out against the strong anti-Labor tide in neighbouring seats.

Fairfax media understands that Mr Abbott had previously prevailed on Senator Fierravanti-Wells to withdraw her factional support for Mr Diaz in favour of a more convincing candidate, but had been rebuffed.

There is also a strong case based on merit for the promotion of proven performers such as South Australians Jamie Briggs and Simon Birmingham and Victorians Kelly O’Dwyer and Josh Frydenberg. Sources said Ms O’Dwyer was likely to win promotion.

The Coalition party room will meet on Thursday in Canberra, where Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop will be re-endorsed as the Liberal leadership team ahead their formal swearing-in on Monday. Parliament is likely to sit for the first time in the Abbott era towards the end of October.

At the close of counting on Monday, the Coalition looked set to claim the seats of Eden-Monaro, Reid, Fisher, Petrie and Dobell. Mining millionaire Clive Palmer was well ahead in the seat of Fairfax with 70 per cent of the count completed. This would see the 150-seat House of Representatives comprise 88 Coalition MPs, 57 Labor, one Green and four others.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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