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Mark Latham steps in to save Crean -

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Mark Latham steps in to save Crean

AM - Friday, 22 October , 2004 08:00:00

Reporter: Catherine McGrath

TONY EASTLEY: There's going to be a showdown in the Labor Caucus in Canberra this morning, with a
test of wills between Mark Latham and the party's factional bosses.

Last night as the ALP thrashed out frontbench positions former leader Simon Crean was caught in the
crossfire. He became collateral damage after he was dumped by his own 'right' faction.

It was a humiliation for the former leader, but it also reflected poorly on Mark Latham, who'd
wanted Mr Crean to remain in the Shadow Ministry. Mr Latham has now placed his credibility as
current leader on the line by trying to save Mr Crean.

From Canberra Chief Political Correspondent Catherine McGrath reports.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: If Mark Latham was facing internal turmoil before last night, now he's fighting
a bushfire that has the potential to engulf his leadership.

He's determined to stamp his authority over this issue. Some others in the Labor Party are
wondering why he's chosen this subject to fight over. The night's dramatic events began when Simon
Crean was dumped by his Victorian right faction for a frontbench position against Mark Latham's
wishes.

Kelvin Thomson, one of those who beat Simon Crean, believed the former leader was heading for the
backbench.

KELVIN THOMPSON: I think Simon Crean has served the Federal Labor Party extremely well through the
difficult years of opposition. He has been in there doing many of the hard and difficult things
that come from opposition. He was also a first class minister in the Hawke and Keating governments
so he has made a terrific contribution.

CATHERINE MCGRATH: But then things changed. Mark Latham decided to draw a line in the sand. The
right faction against him, he wanted the centre faction to sacrifice one of its spots.

Through the night, West Australian Senator Peter Cook was arguing the case in the centre faction on
behalf of the party leader. And when he appeared on Lateline, Mark Latham wasn't prepared to
comment on the plan to save Simon Crean.

MARK LATHAM: The Caucus decides the Labor front bench, that 's the process that we've traditionally
had in our party. The leader then allocates the different portfolio responsibilities, so I don't
think it's appropriate for me to be speculating about Caucus processes that are midstream that are
going to be sorted out tomorrow morning at 9.30 when the caucus meets.

So, I'm happy to talk about the election campaign policy directions but I think the night before
the Caucus meeting, we should actually let those processes do the talking and all the results will
be announced tomorrow morning.

TONY EASTLEY: Mark Latham speaking on Lateline last night.

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