Tasmanian Labor has denied claims a decision to push back its state conference was designed to delay post-election blood-letting amid leadership tensions.
The Labor state conference was due to be held on the weekend of July 7 but has been rescheduled for September 8 and 9.
The Tasmanian Liberals said it was an obvious move by Labor to put off discussion about the party’s performance in the March election, with the delivery of a review expected at the conference.
In an early morning press release, the Government’s Leader of the House, Michael Ferguson, said Labor leader Rebecca White was “doing whatever it takes to delay or stop the release of Labor’s damning review of her failed 2018 election bid”.
He said that whatever comes from the review will not be good news for her leadership.
The party continues to douse any suggestion that David O’Byrne poses an imminent threat to Ms White’s command.
Labor MP Sarah Lovell said the conference had been moved so party members could campaign and doorknock on the weekends leading up to the Braddon by-election on July 28.
“That [election] review is underway, it’s not yet completed and that will be discussed with the party when the review is completed,” she said.
“I’m keen to see the results of the review of the election because we should always be looking back at every election, successful or otherwise, to figure out what we can do differently next time.”
Labor denies Franklin MP David O’Byrne poses a threat to Ms White’s leadership. (AAP: Rob Blakers)
Submissions for Labor’s state election review will now be open until July 16, and recommendations will not be presented to the party rank and file until the September conference.
That is expected to be a relief for Braddon Labor candidate Justine Keay, who faced the possibility of party frustrations being aired during her by-election campaign.
The ABC has been told there was some concern within Labor about election blood-letting getting in the way of the Braddon campaign.
Tasmanian Labor has also deferred its formal preselection process for the next federal election until after the by-election.
The Tasmanian Liberals have called for expressions of interest from potential federal election candidates but have not begun preselection.
‘White missing in action’: Liberals
The Liberals have also called into question Ms White’s notable absence from a media event with federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Ms Keay in Burnie on Tuesday.
Mr Shorten said Ms White was not there because she was “doing something else”.
The ABC has been told Ms White was in her electorate of Lyons on Tuesday, and would be in Braddon on Wednesday.
It is understood Tasmanian Labor was advised of Mr Shorten’s visit on Friday, but that was too “late notice” for Ms White to change plans and be in the north-west electorate.
Ms Lovell denied the Labor leader was in hiding.
“You only have to look at Rebecca White’s social media to see that she’s been out in the electorate every day,” she said.
Hodgman’s nervous, Labor says
Labor questioned why the Government was attacking its opposition so hard only three months after an election win.
Ms Lovell said it was likely the Liberals were nervous about their own political stability, after the Sue Hickey Speaker coup put them on the knife-edge of majority government.
“The fact that they’re spending so much time focused on Labor rather than delivering good government for Tasmania shows that they’re very worried,” she said.
Premier Will Hodgman has previously said he would only govern in majority, which raises questions about his future as Liberal leader if Ms Hickey votes against the Government on any legislation.
On Monday, Mr Hodgman rejected any suggestion he was nervous about minority government.
“We’re in majority, we’ve got 13 [seats],” he said.
“Thirteen out of 25 is a majority — anyone who can add up knows that.”