Speculation about a move to federal politics by NSW Premier Bob Carr has brought an acknowledgement from Labor MPs that the party leadership remains a serious problem.
Opposition Leader Simon Crean and NSW Labor powerbroker John Della Bosca yesterday sought to play down expectations of a move to Canberra by Mr Carr, who had floated a possible move to federal politics after 2007.
But signs that the Carr story was an opening salvo in renewed leadership speculation were confirmed by reports of leaked polling showing Labor continuing to be in dire trouble in Queensland and at risk of losing all its seven seats in the state.
NSW Senator George Campbell said the Labor caucus might have to reconsider Mr Crean's leadership if the polls did not improve.
'This continuing flatlining in the polls obviously is worrying to most members of the federal caucus,' Senator Campbell said.
'At the end of the day if your polls are flatlining in the way they are, the party's got to have a look at what are the causes behind that and obviously one of the issues that will be raised in that context will be leadership.'
Labor backbencher Julia Irwin said federal Labor would perform better if Bob Carr was in federal parliament, and that Mr Carr should consider moving now, rather than after the 2007 NSW election.
'Bob would help save the seats that we hold now and I know in my own heart of hearts, knowing the man the way he is, he would definitely win seats for Labor in NSW,' Ms Irwin told ABC radio.
Sounds to me like things might be happening well before 2007. Labor needs to win the 2004 election, not the 2010 election.