Premier urges Gillard to lead on big issues

Premier urges Gillard to lead on big issues

March 24, 2013

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has urged Julia Gillard to start showing leadership on "the big issues" – or step aside and call an early election.

Speaking in the wake of Thursday's extraordinary spill, Dr Napthine – who replaced Ted Baillieu as Liberal leader earlier this month – said voters were tired of governments ripped apart by internal division.

"(People) want strong leadership," he said. "They don't want a government that's torn apart by self interest, torn apart by factional brawls... Now it's up to the Prime Minister to put all that behind her and get on with the job, and if she can't do that, then she should step aside and call an early election."

Since becoming Premier less than three weeks ago, Dr Napthine has signalled a more co-operative approach with the Commonwealth, following months of deepening tensions between the state and federal governments.

He said if Ms Gillard was able to get past the internal woes plaguing the Labor Party, Victoria would continue negotiating with Canberra on key reforms such as the Gonski schools funding review and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

"We're happy to have further negotiations if the people in Canberra want to concentrate on the big issues, instead of their own internal issues," he said. "Whether it be on education or disability services, we want the very best outcome for Victoria, and we are happy to negotiate with the federal government to achieve that result."

This week's botched attempt to overthrow the Prime Minister was the latest in a series of leadership crisis' facing Australian governments. Last month, Mr Baillieu resigned as Victorian premier after months of internal dissent and poor opinion polls. Days later, Northern Territory chief minister Terry Mills was knifed while on a trade mission in Japan.

However, Dr Napthine described the political landscape in Victoria and Canberra as "chalk and cheese".

Unlike the federal Labor party, he said, the Victorian Coalition had a "very magnanimous decision" by Mr Baillieu to resign, and hand over the leadership in the interest of his party and the state.

"That was a terrific gesture," Dr Napthine said. "The task is now for Julia Gillard to get past all these internal machinations and get on with governing Australia."

The Premier's comments came as he visited the Collingwood Children's Farm on Saturday morning to announce 14 community organisations that would reap the benefits of $3.7 million in early intervention services for children with additional needs.

Groups such as Scope, Noah's Ark Inc, Yooralla, and Melbourne City Mission, were among the recipients of the 500 Early Childhood Intervention Service places, each worth $7385.


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