Bid for rank and file to pick leader

PRESSURE is mounting for a rank and file vote to select the next Labor leadership in a bid to thwart a plan to eventually install defeated MP Brian Wightman as leader before the next election.

Labor's administrative committee is expected to rule in favour of the new process, which gives members and affiliated unions a say, instead of leaving it in the hands of the six or seven elected MPs. 

The 22-member committee will meet on Wednesday to consider the logistics of what is shaping up as a three-way contest that is expected to favour likely contender Bryan Green.

The party is in unchartered waters but believes its ruling will bind the elected members to co-operate with the ballot.

Fears outgoing premier Lara Giddings could be the only contender if the issue was decided by caucus prompted the dominant left faction of the party to yesterday publicly initiate a petition of members calling for a ballot. 

 The Examiner  understands part of the plan to leave Ms Giddings as leader for now involved a promise that re-elected Bass MHA Michelle O'Byrne could quit Parliament to make way for possible future leader Brian Wightman. 

However, Ms O'Byrne has rejected suggestions she would not see out her full term.  

Young Labor president Adam Clarke said yesterday 100 people had already signed the petition for a ballot in the six hours since it was circulated. 

Mr Clarke is backing deputy leader Bryan Green to take the top job, although Mr Green has not confirmed his intention to challenge. 

``He's the sort of person that can unify the party particularly the different arms of the party that have had a bit of bad blood,'' Mr Clarke said yesterday. 

Mr Green would take on the leadership in the short term before handing over to newer talent such as Rebecca White, Scott Bacon or David O'Byrne, if he manages to get back in.  

Brian Wightman

Brian Wightman


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