Ministers support Australian PM ahead of Labor caucus

11:33, June 15, 2010      

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Senior ministers were rallying behind Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ahead of a meeting of the Labor caucus on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner dismissed speculation about Rudd's leadership.

When asked on ABC Radio whether he felt the backbench mood against the prime minister had changed in recent weeks, Tanner: " No it's not."

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith admitted that in the run-up to an election there were "nerves" amongst Members of Parliament (MPs) , especially those in marginal seats.

Smith said the Rudd government was facing similar pre-election "difficulties" to those of the previous Hawke and Howard governments.

Labor was likely to win back voter support when the political focus returned to such things as management of the economy.

"Often the best advice you can give to people is don't worry about agonizing about defeat or victory," Smith told Sky News.

"Just get on with it, less agonizing, more application."

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson was emphatic when asked about the prime minister's future.

"He will lead us through the next election, absolutely no doubt, " Emerson told Sky News.

Labor backbenchers were also supporting Rudd with Queensland MP Yvette D'ath denied there was growing discontent in the caucus.

"There is no (leadership) speculation happening amongst the backbenchers," D'ath told reporters in Canberra, adding Rudd was a great leader and the cabinet was a strong team.

"I find that the ministers in this cabinet are very willing to talk to people like myself ... I find that their doors are always open, as with the prime minister," D'ath said.

"I certainly have no complaints because I find that they are willing to listen."

West Australia's MP Sharryn Jackson said the government could have got off to a better start with selling the mining tax.

"Of course we could have done better, you can always do better, " Jackson said.

"But I do not for a minute criticize the consultation process, it has been open, it is genuine and it is real."

Rudd has been under pressure from colleagues to reach an agreement with mining companies on his government's resource super profits tax.

The controversial measure was responsible for a sharp slump in support for Labor in resources-rich states, Western Australia and Queensland.

Labor MPs in marginal seats were concerned the issue will affect their chances at an election likely later this year.

Source: Xinhua


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