Oakeshott election threat to Labor
Mr Oakeshott said he would consider pulling the pin to go to an election if Labor kept bickering, although he was more interested in the ''very full'' policy agenda now before the federal Parliament.
"If [Labor MPs] forget that being in office means delivering policy outcomes for Australia, then they leave all of us with no choice but to do what we can to assist in bringing an election on," he told the National Times today.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard: 'We resolved this issue in February.' Photo: Ben RushtonThe member for Lyne on the NSW north coast said he was totally fed up with the "ongoing, boring, frustrating" leadership talk coming out of the Labor party. "I think I reflect the mood of the Australian people," he said. "Leadership [speculation] within the Australian Labor Party is something I'm completely sick of."
Mr Oakeshott noted that he still had an agreement with Prime Minister Julia Gillard for the Parliament to run full term - until September/October 2013 - but said that Labor MPs had a clear choice to make between policy work and leadership speculation.
He said that he did not have a specific deadline in mind where he would trigger an early election. "It's not my choice, it's their choice," he said of Labor MPs. This comes as fellow independent Tony Windsor reaffirmed his position that ''all bets would be off'' if Labor changed its leader and that his agreement with Ms Gillard was not transferable.
Mr Windsor noted that the formation of government occurred on the floor of the House, not in written agreements, but said a change of leader could be risky for Labor."A change of leaders would be a high risk strategy that would open up the option of an early election," he said in a statement.
In the wake of the 2010 federal election, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor formed an agreement with Ms Gillard, guaranteeing their support for votes on supply and confidence. Along with similar agreements with the Greens and independent Andrew Wilkie, this enabled Ms Gillard to form government.
Both Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor have previously stated that their agreement was with Ms Gillard - not Labor - meaning that if Labor changed leaders, they would reconsider their position.
Earlier this week, Labor whip Joel Fitzgibbon added more fuel to Labor's leadership speculation when he said that unpopular leaders could not remain in power indefinitely. ''If leaders remain unpopular long enough they'll inevitably stop leading the party,'' he said.
This was followed by reports that key union leaders were questioning their support for Julia Gillard's Prime Ministership. Following discussions this week, union leaders have conceded they can no longer hold their MPs in behind the Gillard