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Broadcast: 16/05/2006

Shorten touted to lead Labor

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

TONY JONES: The Beaconsfield mine collapse shot him into the national spotlight. Now, union boss
Bill Shorten is being touted as the man to lead the Labor Party to the next election. Key Labor
powerbrokers are pushing for a by-election to fast-track Mr Shorten's entry to Parliament. It puts
more pressure on Kim Beazley but he insists he'll remain Labor leader. And for now at least he has
Bill Shorten's support. From Canberra, Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: Kim Beazley had planned a private visit to Beaconsfield today.

KIM BEAZLEY, OPPOSITION LEADER: I hoped that than none of you would be here while I was here. As it
happens, you've tumbled me.

NARDA GILMORE: So he fronted the cameras standing shoulder to shoulder with the man now regarded as
Labor's newest leadership contender.

KIM BEAZLEY: I've known Bill Shorten for a long time. He's an inspirational bloke and he will, as
the years go by, play a very prominent role in the affairs of my party.

NARDA GILMORE: But some within the Labor Party would like to see Mr Shorten playing that role
sooner rather than later. Sections of the NSW Right faction want a by-election to fast-track his
entry into parliament and the leadership.

KIM BEAZLEY: I'll be leading the party to the next election, that's what I will be doing and I
intend to win the next election.

NARDA GILMORE: Bill Shorten insists his focus is elsewhere for now.

BILL SHORTEN, AUSTRALIAN WORKERS UNION: Up to the next general election, 100 per cent Beaconsfield,
100 per cent union and 100 per cent Beazley.

NARDA GILMORE: That's a position leadership rival Kevin Rudd would welcome.

KEVIN RUDD, SHADOW FOREIGN MINISTER: There is an electoral process in this country which lasts
three years. No-one in this country welcomes by-elections.

NARDA GILMORE: The strong support for Bill Shorten within Labor ranks isn't good news for Mr Rudd's
own leadership ambitions. It also makes clear that Kim Beazley is still under pressure, despite
Caucus's positive reaction to last week's Budget reply. This morning, Mr Beazley got a hesitant
endorsement from the New South Wales Premier.

MORRIS IEMMA, NSW PREMIER: He's the best person to be leading Labor and, ah, he's doing...he's
doing an outstanding job.

NARDA GILMORE: Then came praise for Mr Shorten.

MORRIS IEMMA: Bill Shorten's got a great future, a very bright future. He's one of the rising stars
of the Labor movement.

NARDA GILMORE: In Darwin on his whistlestop tour to sell the Budget, the Treasurer was happy to
give his take on the Labor leadership.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: We take whoever the Labor Party throws up. They had Beazley, then they
had Crean, then they had Latham, then they had Beazley, now they've passed over Gillard, they've
given away Rudd and they're on to Shorten.

NARDA GILMORE: But he had far less to say when it came to the Liberal leadership.

REPORTER: Could you beat Mr Beazley?

PETER COSTELLO: (Laughs) Thank you for your question, Dennis.

NARDA GILMORE: Dave Tollner, a solid Howard backer, thinks Mr Costello has what it takes.

DAVE TOLLNER, GOVERNMENT BACKBENCHER: Look, I think Peter is a fantastic man and more than capable
to run the country.

NARDA GILMORE: There would be no competition from Alexander Downer. He's clearly not interested in
having another go at the top job.

ALEXANDER DOWNER, FOREIGN MINISTER: I didn't enjoy it very much when I did it and I wasn't very
good at it but I've been much better as the Foreign Minister.

NARDA GILMORE: For now at least, Peter Costello insists that he's completely focused on selling his
11th Budget. Narda Gilmore, Lateline.

(c) 2006 ABC