The federal Labor Party appears to be reaching a point of high farce. That party elder Peter Beattie can seriously suggest Bob Hawke — a loved and respected figure, but now in his senescence — could broker a resolution says much about the inability of over 100 men and women in caucus to find a way to resolve the long-term Rudd-Gillard leadership tension and address the imminent catastrophic defeat of the party. A defeat that would lead to the erasure of most of the legacy of the Gillard government.

Worse, the party can’t even conduct a rational debate on other subjects for fear of exacerbating the leadership issue. This morning, caucus deferred a decision on the motion of retiring MP Steve Gibbons to return the power of selecting the Labor frontbench to caucus after the next election, because it had somehow become a proxy for the leadership.

What hope can there be of the much-needed internal reform of the party if it is unable to even discuss reform for fear of drawing further attention to an issue it is hopelessly unable to resolve?

Oh, and Gillard’s still the leader. We’ll let you know if anything actually happens …

Peter Fray

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