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Shadow Minister announces she will not stand for reelection to the front bench; discusses election result; and calls for generational change in ALP.

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Thursday 14 October 2004

Shadow Minister announces she will not stand for reelection to the front bench; discusses election result; and calls for generational change in ALP


MARK COLVIN: It's five days after Labor's election loss and another ALP frontbencher has opted to volunteer their position, this time citing the need for generational change. 


Annette Ellis will leave her post as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors an
d will not stand again for the frontbench. 


Ms Ellis says the party needs generational change if it's to win against the Coalition, and those standing for frontbench positions should be looking at a three to six-year commitment. 


She won't say whether she believes others should follow her lead. 


Annette Ellis spoke to Chief Political Correspondent Catherine McGrath. 


ANNETTE ELLIS: I've decided, given the result that we got on the weekend, finding ourselves in a political circumstance we want to be far from frankly, that I would rather step aside and allow someone else to have the experience and the learning that I've had in the last two or three years on the frontbench. We really have to make some hard decisions, and I'd like to think that I'm contributing in some way to the renewal that I believe we need by doing what I'm doing. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: Kim Beazley will probably go to the backbench, Simon Crean and Bob McMullan are indicating they're happy to seek different portfolios on the frontbench, but give up their economic portfolios. Do you think others should follow suit? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: Look, this is a very individual process, from my perspective. I've made my decision on my own, I've thought about it very carefully. I was under no pressure from anybody to stay or go, it was entirely up to me, and I'm of the view that that's how each individual should apply this to themselves, and they will know - if they think carefully enough - about what they believe they ought to do for the sake of the Caucus and the party, and that is stay or go, or swap portfolios. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: So, in relation to yourself, why do you think that Labor not only lost the election but went backwards? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: Well, I'm not sure that I have the entire answer to that yet. I have some views. It's really interesting, because here in Canberra our vote went up, as it did in a small number of pockets elsewhere, but there's no doubt that the Liberals' vote went up dramatically in seats that we thought we could snatch back from them this time, and we have to look very carefully at the reason for that.  


I have some ideas, they may or may not be right, but what I need to do - and I'm looking forward to - is getting back into the Parliament next week and meeting and talking with my colleagues, and I am hopeful that we will have a very thorough debriefing for all of us to participate in, whether… 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: Well, do you think, for example, Annette Ellis, that concentrating so much on the Green vote was a mistake? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: It could've been, it could've also been that we didn't refute strongly enough the economic arguments. There could be a range of issues that we need to look at here, and that's why it'd be very easy now to name one or two, when I think there could be a combination of factors. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: And what about Mark Latham's leadership, how do you assess that? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: I believe that Mark should stay as leader. I think that he deserves to have the chance to learn from this experience, as I believe we all need to. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: So do you think that people on the frontbench now should be looking at their position for three years hence, and six years hence - making sure they're ready and in a fighting spirit and able to deal with a frontbench portfolio if you don't win for another six years? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: Yes, well I do to some degree, and that's basically some of the thinking in my mind. You know, I would like to think that we are in a position in three years' time to have a real go at gaining Government next time, but we are up against it, and that is a very big call. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: So they need to be young people or younger people, you think, than some of the current faces? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: No, I'm not putting an age on it, they could be people who have entered politics later, they could be people who've never had the opportunity before, but new to the frontbench or with new ideas, or alternatively a way of incorporating those people into our thinking, no matter where they are. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: Do you think there are too many hacks on the frontbench who are there because of their factional allegiances? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: No, look, I'm not going to get into that sort of commentary, because I think that there are a range of reasons why people are there. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: So who do you think are the kinds of fresh faces that Labor could be looking towards? What sort of people on the backbench would you see as having potential to come forward? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: Well, without wishing to name names - and I'm not going to do that - but there are people who may have potential who've never had the opportunity to show it. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: Would you suggest that some others should look at making the same sort of decision? 


ANNETTE ELLIS: It's up to them. 


MARK COLVIN: Annette Ellis, who's standing down as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors, with Catherine McGrath.