Labor’s newest backbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has revealed he and leader Anthony Albanese had some “pretty significant dust-ups” in the months leading up to his shock resignation.
Mr Fitzgibbon quit the shadow ministry on Tuesday, citing the decision to step down was made 18 months ago after Labor’s 2019 election loss.
Explosive reports of a fight on Monday night between Mr Fitzgibbon and Mr Albanese over climate change emerged only hours after Ed Husic was announced as Mr Fitzgibbon’s replacement.
But Mr Fitzgibbon told ABC RN that there was “no real connection” between his resignation and the row.
“It’s fair to say that Anthony and I have had some pretty significant dust-ups in recent days, in recent weeks and recent months,” he said.
“I think that’s a good thing and leads to a more vibrant party.
“I wasn’t prepared to allow the cheesecloth brigade in the caucus to use Biden’s win to argue for even more ambitious climate change policy, which was going to cost us another election.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said he was determined to make Labor more electable, adding its climate and energy policies arguably cost “Kevin Rudd his job, arguably it cost Julia Gillard her job and arguably it has cost Labor three elections”.
He said climate change had slipped down Australians’ list of priorities during the coronavirus pandemic and Labor needed to appeal blue-collar workers who were focused on their household budget.
When asked how many people in caucus supported his view, Mr Fitzgibbon said: “One hundred per cent of caucus members want to win an election, so they will sign up.
“There is a will amongst many to emulate what Annastacia Palaszczuk did only a few weeks ago.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk was able to go to the electorate with strong environmental credentials but also with the message that she has the back of our coal workers, our gas workers, those who are in our big manufacturing plants.”
He said Mr Albanese was the “right person to lead” because he was able to bring the party back to the centre ground where Labor could win an election.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus told ABC that he accepted that Mr Fitzgibbon had strongly held views on climate policies.
But Mr Dreyfus said he was “out of step”.
“He’s out step not only with the Labor Party, he’s out of step with thinking across Australia,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“The statements he’s been making for many months now are out of step with what Labor has agreed on.”