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PM calls in caucus for crisis summit

| 25.01,12. 01:13 AM |

 

PM calls in caucus for crisis summit


January 25, 2012

THE entire Labor caucus has been ordered to an unprecedented weekend brainstorming session before parliament resumes, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard moves to keep her party on side.

All 102 MPs will workshop policy ideas and strategies, with one saying: "We will be getting the butcher paper and Textas out and solving the country's problems."

MPs will also be asked to raise any concerns they have in their electorates with the PM and the cabinet directly.

The "planning day" appears similar to former NSW premier Kristina Keneally's "whiteboard workshop" with her new caucus when she took the leadership in 2009 - and which drew widespread ridicule from MPs.
 
"Yeah, it's 1000 flowers blooming," said one backbencher, in reference to Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong's attempt in 1957 to flush out dissidents.


THE entire Labor caucus has been ordered to an unprecedented weekend brainstorming session before parliament resumes, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard moves to keep her party on side.

All 102 MPs will workshop policy ideas and strategies, with one saying: "We will be getting the butcher paper and Textas out and solving the country's problems."

MPs will also be asked to raise any concerns they have in their electorates with the PM and the cabinet directly.

The "planning day" appears similar to former NSW premier Kristina Keneally's "whiteboard workshop" with her new caucus when she took the leadership in 2009 - and which drew widespread ridicule from MPs.
 
"Yeah, it's 1000 flowers blooming," said one backbencher, in reference to Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong's attempt in 1957 to flush out dissidents.

"This is an exercise in trying to beguile the backbench," another MP said.
 
"She knows she is in trouble and wants to convince the caucus to stick with her."
 
The planning day will be held in the Labor caucus room at parliament at 2pm on Sunday, February 5, before parliament resumes on the Tuesday.
 
It will be followed by a barbecue with the PM at The Lodge at 5.30pm.
 
Some MPs claimed it was an attempt to rally the caucus behind her, with fears lingering that support has been leaking away to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd over the summer break.
 
Although special caucus meetings are often held on specific policy issues, this is the first of its type to allow the backbench input into general policy direction.
 
One MP said the meeting was "a subtle reminder of what life was like under Kevin".
 
A message was sent to NSW MPs early last week from backbencher Daryl Melham, informing them they would have to be in Canberra on February 5 for the meeting.
 
"The Prime Minister has asked me to call the caucus together for a planning session for 2012," he wrote.
 
Senior members of the Gillard government were concerned that the caucus would "blow up" if the pokie reform issue had not been resolved before parliament resumed.
 
They conceded part of the strategy of dumping the deal with independent Andrew Wilkie last week was the timing. "This meeting allows us to move forward without the pokie issue becoming the single issue of focus for MPs, especially those from NSW," one minister said.
 
Another agreed the summit was unusual: "Yes, it is the first time we have done anything like this in that format. But it will be good for MPs to get stuff off their chest."
 
Another MP said the backbench would see through it and most of the major decisions, such as pokies, had been done without caucus: "What difference will this make? It's for one reason only. Kevin Rudd."
 
Mr Rudd used to hold similar meetings in opposition but was accused of abandoning caucus input on becoming prime minister.

Telegraph



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