Melham denies discontent with Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard Getty Images

OUTGOING Labor caucus chair Daryl Melham has angrily denied his resignation from the position was a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Mr Melham, who has held the New South Wales seat of Banks since 1990, has been caucus chair for eight years.

The average time in the job is about two-three years.

He said he was stepping down to concentrate on retaining Banks, which he now holds by only 2.9% after suffering a swing against him of 8.92% at the 2010 federal election.

An online media report, filed shortly after Tuesday's caucus meeting at which Mr Melham announced his resignation, suggested he had quit because he was unhappy with the direction the government was taking.

But he scoffed at this assertion and denied his resignation was a "dummy spit".

"It (the resignation) is actually a vote of confidence in the way the party is travelling at the moment," Mr Melham told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Melham said he was confident there was "enough quality in caucus to take the position" and it was time for someone else to take over.

Ms Gillard said in a statement Mr Melham had been "an exceptional caucus chair".

"Mr Melham has expressed a completely understandable desire to spend more time in his electorate as we head into an election year," Ms Gillard said.

"I thank him for his loyal service to the party in this role, and look forward to his continuing contribution inside and outside caucus."

Mr Melham was the Labor MP who nominated Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper for the role of Speaker late last year.

He was asked by reporters what he made of the content of the lurid text messages allegedly sent by Mr Slipper and released by the Federal Court this week.

"I am getting a bit sick and tired of trial by the press. The material is placed before the court. I will not be commenting," he said.

Mr Melham's resignation will be effective from October 30 when the caucus next meets.

Topics:  australian government julia gillard labor politics

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