Opposition Leader Rebecca White says she is "100 per cent confident" she has the full support of the Labor Party, after questions were raised about her role in blocking the preselection of a high-profile would-be candidate for the state election.
On Sunday, Tasmanian Labor's powerful administrative committee voted against preselecting Kingborough mayor Dean Winter as a candidate for the party in the electorate of Franklin.
Mr Winter, a former economic adviser to Ms White, said on social media that he thought he could have made a positive contribution to the state Labor team and that he was "disappointed" he was denied that opportunity but wished "the best of luck to all the successful candidates".
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The decision to block Mr Winter's preselection - said to have been orchestrated by the Health and Community Services Union's Tim Jacobson and Robbie Moore - threatens to engulf Labor just days into the campaign, exposing ideological divisions within the party. Mr Jacobson and Mr Moore were contacted for comment.
Former Labor premiers Paul Lennon, David Bartlett and Lara Giddings have all taken the extraordinary step of publicly declaring their disappointment with the move, believing the 35-year-old mayor would have been a strong candidate.
It's understood the 22-member administrative committee - which has four members representing the Right faction and 18 represenitng the Left - voted along factional lines when it came to deciding the fate of Mr Winter. This would mean Ms White, believed to have previously objected to the plan to block Mr Winter, voted to do just that on Sunday.
As the party announced its candidates in Launceston on Monday, Ms White was asked whether she was disappointed with the way the preselection process for Franklin had played out. The Labor leader said she was "really excited with the team I've got standing with me here today" and acknowledged the disappointment of those who had missed out.
"I'm 100 per cent confident that I've got the support of the party, and I've got the best team to deliver a majority Labor government to make Tasmania a better and fairer place and to stop Peter Gutwein's privatisation agenda," Ms White said.
"There's been a process that's been undertaken by the Labor Party, the candidates that I have standing here with me are the candidates that we'll take to the state election. They've been endorsed by the Labor Party. They are good, strong representatives for their community. And I'm proud of every single one of them and know that they will be able to deliver a majority Labor government."
A Labor source said the blocking of Mr Winter's preselection was due to some ALP figures wanting him "to be leader".
"And [the Left's] sense was that that was not something that [it was] prepared to have happen at this point in time," the source said. "The thing about the Dean thing is this isn't some kind of permanent block. It's just a moment in time."
Another party source said the preselection episode had shown Ms White was "controlled by faceless men".
"Otherwise, how could any leader worth their salt in a Hare-Clark election not want the very best team that you could assemble to run in the election," they said.
"Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, the back, the neck, everywhere before the campaign truly got underway."
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