Breaking: The Daily Telegraph will report tomorrow that Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid has told Nathan Rees he no longer has his support and also that Rees’ staff have no idea where he is.
If this is the case, I expect a spill this week or next.
Update: Here’s the story:
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Labor kingmaker Eddie Obeid met with Mr Rees and told him he should consider resigning.
Mr Rees has not surfaced since taking a week-long holiday on Saturday. Bizarrely, the official line from Mr Rees’ office yesterday was: “I don’t know where he is.”
Update 2: Channel Nine’s political reporter has apparently been briefed by a number of MP’s, including a “senior cabinet minister” confirming that Rees will be thrown out early next week and replaced with Planning Minister Kristina Keneally.
Update 3: It appears that Nathan Rees has issued a statement effectively declaring that he isn’t going anywhere. If we take the last couple of developments at face value you can come up with a fairly plausible scenario. The Obeid/Tripodi faction that were supporting Rees have now thrown their weight behind Kristina Keneally. Rees is digging his heels in and counting the numbers. No word on whether the non-Tripodi Right will back Rees, Keneally or their own candidate (Della Bosca?).
This article seems to suggest that the Labor Party is trying to quell rumours of an imminent spill. It suggests that John Della Bosca is spreading rumours of a Tripodi-Keneally deal to spread disarray within the party.
I don’t think Della Bosca is that stupid. But any political journalist stupid enough to take what Della Bosca or his supporters say about leadership issues on face value should be sacked.
To me, this smacks of damage control. If the deal to push Rees out was made and it was going to happen next week, the last thing the plotters would have wanted was the story leaked days before, creating and exposing all sorts of tensions within the party.
Update 4: It looks like we were right to be sceptical of any deal. The Daily Telegraph, who broke the story, are backtracking very quickly.
The rumours that a deal had been done for Mr Rees to resign next week in favour of Ms Keneally – who is holidaying in the US – appear to have stemmed from a bizarre text message sent from Indonesia.
Rebel MP Tony Stewart sent a text to backbenchers yesterday morning from Jakarta claiming to have knowledge of a deal. Labor head office also swung in behind Mr Rees last night to protect his leadership amid reports a deal had been done between factional warlords for him to resign.
The leaking of a supposed resignation deal is believed to have also been pushed by MPs in the camp of Health Minister John Della Bosca, who is believed to be manoeuvring to challenge Mr Rees for his job.
But Labor MPs said yesterday it was still too soon – mainly because there was no obvious replacement.
I always find it hilarious that our widely read and supposedly respected newspapers can make an unequivocal statement one day, contradict it the next and continue to act as though they are the irrefutable bastions of truth.
I don’t think is the end of leadership speculation for this week.