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Shadow Minister denies he asked Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to intervene during preselection; criticises personal attacks by Senator Conroy.

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Thursday 9 March 2006

Shadow Minister denies he asked Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to intervene during preselection; criticises personal attacks by Senator Conroy


TONY EA STLEY: The internal stoush within the Labor Party has worsened, with Kim Beazley now accusing Simon Crean of begging for a factional deal to stitch up his preselection in his seat in Victoria, despite his public complaints about the party's factional warlords. 


Simon Crean has rejected Mr Beazley's claims, saying he never sought such a deal. 


He's speaking to Gillian Bradford in Canberra. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Well Simon Crean, Kim Beazley has said you wanted a factional stitch-up to avoid a challenge to your own position. Is that the case? 


SIMON CREAN: No, it's not. It's just completely wrong.  


I didn't ask him to participate in a stitch-up to prevent a challenge, I didn't ask him to unpick a factional deal. 


I asked him only one thing, and that was that he be prepared to repeat in public what he had said about me, previously in the public. And that was, that I shouldn't be nudged aside in his view and that he needed my experience on the frontbench, in a way in which I could use that in my campaign with the rank and file. 


I might say the only conversation I had with Mr Beazley in relation to any of this was less than a week before the ballot, the Monday before the Sunday ballot. Obviously the ballot was well underway. It would've been fanciful to suggest a factional stitch-up in any event, because the ballot was going down the track. 


I sought that meeting to simply tell him about how rotten the circumstances were in Victoria, to fully brief him on that. The meeting went for more than an hour I recollect. 


And my main question to him was, because I said I would win the local ballot, 'What was he going to do if there was an attempt to overturn the wish of the locals by a stacked central group?' 


That, I must say, is an issue Mr Beazley will still have to face up to… may have to face up to, depending on the results in Isaacs, Bruce and in Scullin. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Well he's really accusing you of hypocrisy. How do you get past that? 


SIMON CREAN: Well his accusation is just falsely based. Now he might be striking out because he's not handling this situation well, but look, I think the best thing that Kim can do is rather than try and find fictitious justifications for what's happened, accept my invitation to meet with him... 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: And he hasn't done that? 


SIMON CREAN: … I'm still waiting for confirmation as to when we can meet. It can't be a meeting over the phone and it certainly can't be conducted over the airwaves. 


The sooner we meet to sort things out, the better, and I think the less said before we meet… 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Do you still support him as leader? 


SIMON CREAN: … the least said before we meet, the better.  


Yes, of course I still support him as the leader. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Has his position been undermined though, by what you've been saying publicly about him?  


SIMON CREAN: Of course not.  


I mean, what I've been saying is my pre-selection said there's a wake-up call. We have to take on the faction. I just want Kim to stand up with me against the factions. 


Instead, he's trying to suggest I was seeking a factional stitch-up. It's just wrong. I'm the one that fought the factions. I'm the one that beat the factions and I'm saying to Kim, if there's a will, there's a way, develop the will and I'll show you the way. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: You want Stephen Conroy, the Senate deputy leader sacked for his role in the pre-selection challenge in Victoria. Mr Beazley says, don't get personal about Stephen Conroy. Are you going to take that advice on board? 


SIMON CREAN: Don’t get personal about Stephen Conroy? What do you think Stephen Conroy's been about me? 


But look, mine isn't personal. Mine is saying this fundamental question: Stephen Conroy has a conflict of interest in his role. As a member of the parliamentary leadership team, he can't be involved in undermining the leadership. 


And that includes getting involved in pre-selection battles and devising strategies to defeat, unseat, sitting frontbenchers. 


If he wants to do that, let him stay playing his factional games, because quite frankly, he's a dud at it, he can't count. But he can't do both. 


He can't play the factional games and be in the leadership team. He must choose - he won't choose, because he wants the luxury of having the status as well as the role that he seems to be the only thing that he does. Kim Beazley must remove him if Stephen Conroy wants to continue to play the factional games. It's as simple as that. 


I might also say, that anyone that orchestrated such a disastrous campaign as Stephen Conroy did against me, if they were doing the decent thing, they'd just hand in their resignation. 


It was a total failure, and he was responsible for it.  


Now don't talk to me about getting personal. Conroy's the one that made it personal. He's been personal against me for years. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Simon Crean, thanks for speaking to AM this morning. 


SIMON CREAN: My pleasure. 


TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Member for Hotham, Simon Crean, speaking there with Gillian Bradford in Canberra.