Labor leader Michael Daley has stood down as leader after Bill Shorten told the NSW branch he was concerned his continued presence would be a distraction during the federal election campaign.
But Mr Daley has confirmed it is his intention to contest the leadership ballot after the election, which is expected to include at least one challenger Chris Minns.
In a statement Mr Daley said: “This is the right and proper thing to do. It is in keeping with the spirit with the state Labor party’s caucus rules regarding a rank-and-file election of the leader.
“To do otherwise would be an unnecessary distraction from the task of electing a Shorten Labor government in a few weeks time.”
An interim leader Penny Sharpe will be appointed until after the ballot is conducted, as has been the practice at the federal level when the leadership was declared open after the 2013 election.
Labor sources confirmed to The New Daily that Mr Shorten was deeply concerned about Mr Daley’s gaffe over Asian immigration during the NSW state poll and asked the NSW branch to act.
Mr Shorten also condemned Mr Daley’s comments on Monday, describing them as unacceptable.
“In terms of who the New South Wales Labor Party pick, that’ll be a matter for them,” he said.
“But I did say yesterday – and I do repeat – his comments, which were videotaped, were wrong. I’ve told them they were wrong. It’s not even that you shouldn’t say them, you shouldn’t think them.”
NSW Labor had earlier declared a leadership ballot open on Mr Daley’s job but slapped a ban on MPs talking about it until after the federal election.
That move came as ABC election analyst Antony Green called the seat of Dubbo for the National Party, delivering the Berejiklian government a 47th seat and a majority in the NSW Lower House.
Mr Green said that while preference counts for the early voting centres were not yet available, “the current first-preference tallies in the centres, combined with available preference flows and scrutineer reports, all point to Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders winning the seat by around 1500 votes”.
The win takes the Coalition to 47 seats in the 93-seat chamber — enough to govern without relying on cross-bench support.
The ALP had asked MPs to “refrain from commenting on, or campaigning for the SPLP (state parliamentary) leadership prior to the federal election”.
That is widely tipped to be called for May 11 or 18. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to visit the Governor-General and dissolve parliament shortly after the April 2 budget.
Kogarah MP Chris Minns signalled his intention on Sunday to contest the state leadership ballot, as he did when it was declared vacant following Luke Foley’s resignation last year.
Strathfield MP Jodi McKay is another potential candidate, following Mr Daley’s poorer than expected result at Saturday’s NSW election.
Western Sydney MP Prue Car has also been championed by some as a future party leader, but is a reluctant starter in the upcoming ballot.
In a statement on Monday, NSW Labor said it was “on official campaign footing and is committed to the task of electing a Shorten Labor government over the next seven weeks”.
“The party has directed the caucus to open nominations after the federal election and members of the State Parliamentary Labor Party (SPLP) are directed to refrain from commenting on, or campaigning for the SPLP leadership prior to the federal election,” it said.
“The party has recommitted to holding a rank-and-file component of the election of the SPLP leader according to the party’s rules.”
Mr Daley is expected to get slammed by party membership during the rank-and-file component of the leadership ballot following his Asian gaffes, which came to light in the final days before the state election.
Labor’s vote stalled on Saturday after the release of devastating video that caught Mr Daley’s claims that “Asians with PhDs” are stealing Australians’ jobs. Since then, calls for him to resign have mounted.
Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said there were lessons for all political parties in the results from the NSW election.
“There are two key messages, I think … The first is, we all have to look at what’s happening outside the major cities: Outside the major cities, there is a growth of minor parties that really is a shift,” he said.
“The second message that, I think, is really clear, [and] where federally we are in a very different position, is the concept of changing leaders and re-introducing yourself in the course of 100 days, which was the task that we’d given ourselves this time. That’s not something that the public wants. The public wants stability.”
Mr Daley took over the NSW Labor leadership from Mr Foley just 135 days before the election.
After Saturday’s result, Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos has predicted the Coalition is more confident about retaining the federal NSW seat of Banks, and even picking up the Labor seat of Lindsay after the Emma Husar controversy.
“No doubt they are more confident. Looking at Scott Morrison on election night where he declared the federal result, that confidence will express itself through arrogance,” Mr Burke said.
“Scott Morrison’s demeanour on Saturday night is the exact person that, I think, shows his true colours and exactly what turns the electorate off. They don’t want an arrogant prime minister shouting at them through a microphone into their lounge rooms.”