DARREN Cheeseman’s call for a government leadership spill threw the Corangamite MP into the national spotlight this week, but he says he has no regrets.
Mr Cheeseman was in Colac yesterday and reflected on his “huge week” since announcing he supported former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as future leader.
He is the only Federal Australian Labor Party politician to speak out against PM Julia Gillard’s leadership but Mr Cheeseman says he is a “team player”.
Mr Cheeseman said a leadership spill would “enable the government to move on”.
“Whatever happens I’ll get behind whoever is the leader but we need to hold this seat and the party needs to confront it now and deal with it,” he said.
“There are long-time Labor supporters who’ve been saying they need to know where the government and leadership is at.
“There is no doubt about it that over the last few months of last year and the first month and a half of this year the community’s view has been quite concrete and I’ve acted on it.”
Mr Cheeseman acknowledged media speculation about his motives and he denied a western Victorian newspaper’s claim that Senator Kim Carr had influenced his comments.
He also said there had been no promises of a top job or any discussion with Mr Rudd before the weekend’s events.
“I haven’t spoken to Kevin at all. I don’t know if he’s available or not or how this will play out,” Mr Cheeseman said.
“It’s impossible to know if he has the numbers.
“There are a number of camps within the party; some will think Julia should go forward, some will agree with me and some could support other potential candidates such as Simon Crean.
“But if we can deal with it either way, the party will be in a strong position to go forward,” he said.
Mr Cheeseman said he was not worried about gaining pre-selection and was confident, whatever the outcome of the latest leadership shake-up, that he would represent Australia’s most marginal seat at the next election.
“The Seat of Corangamite will remain a battle ground and I will continue to advocate for the people here.”
Mr Cheeseman said the ALP’s first opportunity to consider its leadership would be at a caucus meeting next Tuesday.