Milne voices support for Gillard

AS the Federal Labor Party continues to struggle with its leadership, Greens Leader Christine Milne put aside the two parties' differences on preference voting to voice her support for the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

On ABC television on Monday night, Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon reignited debate on the Labor leadership with comments that "populism matters in politics".

Mr Fitzgibbon has been widely acknowledged as moving from supporting PM Julia Gillard in the February party leadership spill to backing former leader Kevin Rudd in recent months.

He said in any political party, leaders who remained unpopular long enough would inevitably stop leading the party.

While Prime Minister Gillard repeated that the leadership issue was put to bed by the February caucus vote, it has been a continual distraction for the government throughout the 43rd parliament.

Mr Fitzgibbon's comments, which were not emphatically supportive of Ms Gillard, sparked calls from Manager of Opposition Business in the House, Christopher Pyne, for his resignation.

Mr Pyne said due to his important role in "getting the numbers on the floor (of the House of Representatives)", if Mr Fitzgibbon was not willing to resign, then Ms Gillard should sack him.

But Senator Milne, who has been embroiled in a public conflict with the Labor Party over preference voting allocations, yesterday reaffirmed her support for Ms Gillard.

Senator Milne said that she agreed the comments from Mr Fitzgibbon were not helping Ms Gillard within her party, and she remained fully supportive of the Prime Minister.

And despite continuing differences of opinion, the Greens did not seem to be pulling away from Ms Gillard and the mutually beneficial relationship the parties hold in minority government.

Topics:  australian labor party christine milne joel fitzgibbon julia gillard

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