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ALP Caucus members discuss leadership contest at Randwick Racecourse.

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Monday 9 June 2003

ALP Caucus members discuss leadership contest at Randwick Racecourse


MARK COLVIN: Some of the action in the Labor leadership stoush unfolded at a day at the races in Sydney today. It was all happening at Royal Randwick Racecourse, at a fundraiser for the scholarship foundation named after the late Mick Young, the genial ALP Minister and Federal President who didn't mind a flutter or a beer. 


Peta Donald went to the races to call the political odds for PM


(Race call) 


PETA DONALD: Having fought two federal election campaigns, be it unsuccessfully, Kim Beazley knows what a picture opportunity is all about. The man who wants a third tilt at beating John Howard to the Prime Ministership placed his bet on, yes, race three. He wasn't being too risky, backing the favourite Marchioness, who won easily. 


REPORTER: Mr Beazley do you see this as an omen for next week? 


KIM BEAZLEY: Well, I hope so (laughs). It's not a bad one, I've got to say. Modest bet though. Modest bet. 


REPORTER: Did it pay a princely sum? 


KIM BEAZLEY: Well, I'll find out. Probably… I put in 10, I'll get 12 (laughs). 


PETA DONALD: Kim Beazley and his wife Susie Annus arrived at the races with the ever popular Bob Hawke and his wife Blanche d'Alpuget - Australia's most popular Labor Prime Minister ever backing Mr Beazley to lead Labor because he says he's got more chance than Simon Crean of winning. 


When it came to his speech though, Bob Hawke was less direct. 


BOB HAWKE: There's never been a time when it's more important that we should see a Labor Government in power. I'm not going to enter into a discussion about some current facets of that question, because it's not appropriate that at a function like this we should. 


PETA DONALD: His message was clear though: winning is what it's about. 


BOB HAWKE: Commit your time, your effort, your resources, your energy, the whole of your being between now and whenever that next federal election is, to making sure that Labor wins. Because if we don't this country is going to enter into one of the darkest periods in its history. Mick Young doesn't deserve that. 


PETA DONALD: The other former prime minister in the room remained silent. Gough Whitlam wrote to Kim Beazley during the last election campaign, critical of his stance on asylum seekers. Today, Mr Whitlam wouldn't be interviewed. 


A Crean supporter, frontbencher Robert McClelland was talking, playing down the influence Mr Hawke's backing of Kim Beazley will have. 


ROBERT MCCLELLAND: Aw, that's understandable. Kim was very strong supporter of Bob Hawke. They were both loyal to each other and you can understand mateship, that's entirely understandable. But, you know, I've got to make my own judgment and the judgment I've made is to back our current leader. 


PETA DONALD: Do you think a lot of people will now come out and support Mr Beazley, given Bob Hawke's endorsement? 


ROBERT MCCLELLAND: Look, I don't think so. People in the Labor Party, federally when they get to that level are very independently minded. They'll make their own judgments irrespective of the outside endorsements of former leaders. I mean, they're all held with some degree of reverence, but at the end of the day federal members will make their own call. 


PETA DONALD: The other Labor frontbencher at the races today, was Wayne Swan, one of at least three shadow ministers suspected of supporting Kim Beazley. But he wasn't saying so today. 


WAYNE SWAN: Well I'll be making a statement on the leadership some time later this week. That's all I've got to say today. This is a fundraising function for the Mick Young Foundation. It's something that's important to me. I'm on the board here, and that's why I'm here today. But a bit later in the week, I'll make a statement on the leadership. 


PETA DONALD: In his speech the backbencher responsible for all of this spoke only of Mick Young, and the importance of education, not of the leadership campaign he's furiously waging. And Kim Beazley has the grudging support of Tony Young, brother of the man the day was supposedly all about, Mick Young. 


TONY YOUNG: Personally, I don't think Simon can win the election. And I doubt very much whether Kim can. But I'd rather think… I think Kim's got more chance. 


PETA DONALD: So you'd be a Beazley backer? 


TONY YOUNG: Yep. I sure would. 


PETA DONALD: What do you think Mick Young would make of this state of affairs? 


TONY YOUNG: Aw, lord knows (laughs). He'd be very dirty, I'll tell ya, very cranky. He'd be very cranky. 


MARK COLVIN: Tony Young, brother of the late Mick Young ending Peta Donald's report at Randwick Racecourse there.