Speculation is mounting that a senior Labor figure could launch a stunning leadership coup against a rejuvenated Bill Shorten.
The reports emerged on Sunday despite Labor’s remarkable results in the 2016 election which saw it probably win 11 seats off the Coalition.
Member for Grayndler and Labor left faction heavyweight Anthony Albanese was the challenger, Sky News reported.
But a resolute Mr Shorten slapped down such suggestions.
“For myself, I have never been more certain of my leadership than I have this morning,” he told journalists on Sunday.
Mr Shorten suggested Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should be the one facing leadership scrutiny.
Labor’s former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks told The New Daily he doubted Mr Shorten would be challenged, saying the party’s leader “could be PM soon”.
Former Labor Queensland premier Peter Beattie also dismissed the speculation.
“The ALP would be totally insane to change leaders. Party members expect Anthony Albanese to put the party first,” he wrote on Twitter.
Labor achieved a 3.73 per cent positive swing in Saturday’s vote, with the Australian Electoral Commission reporting the party held 71 seats in the lower house. The election result was still too close to call.
A Labor leadership spill can only happen after an election defeat, on the resignation or permanent physical incapacity of the leader, or when 75 per cent of caucus members sign a petition calling for a leadership vote.
Dastyari rubbishes Shorten leadership spill
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari joined in denouncing the speculation.
“There is nothing to address,” Mr Dastyari told Sky News.
“You guys keep driving something that I don’t see is there.
“Of course the Labor Party’s going to end up sticking with Bill Shorten … What others choose to say is a matter for them, what I can speak to is to my own views and my view that Bill Shorten had a sensational result last night.”
Mr Albanese has long been the rival of Mr Shorten. He unsuccessfully challenged Shorten for party leadership in 2013 — and was touted as a replacement when Shorten’s approval rating fell in late 2015.
On Saturday night, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek was asked by the Nine Network if she “supported Mr Shorten moving forward”.
“You know, tonight we have got the election hanging in the balance and frankly I can’t believe you are focusing on this,” Ms Plibersek responded.
Presenter Karl Stefanovic interjected: “The question is either a yes or a no.”
“Yes,” she replied.
Mr Shorten became Labor leader in October 2013 after then leader Kevin Rudd was defeated in that year’s election. Mr Rudd subsequently stepped down from the role.
In the leadership ballot, Mr Shorten won just over 52 per cent of a combined vote of the Labor caucus plus rank-and-file members. Mr Albanese was his only challenger.
After Mr Rudd won the Labor leadership (and prime ministership) for the second time in 2013, Labor changed its leadership ballot rules.
Instead of leadership being determined by just a caucus, it changed to leadership being decided by a caucus vote and rank-and-file member vote.