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Labor in danger of split if it can't find middle ground: Fitzgibbon

Politics

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has warned the party could split in two unless it can reconcile the views of inner-city and regional voters.

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Fitzgibbon, an influential member of the Labor caucus, has opened the door for a major philosophical battle and challenged Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to drag the party back to centre ground.

“Labor needs to develop a middle-ground message for a broad and diverse community in order to win government,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Thursday.

“People throughout the party, whether they be on the extreme left or the extreme right, have to give (Albanese) space to do just that.”

Fitzgibbon, a convenor of Labor’s Right faction, has recently spoken out against environmental campaigners within the party and encouraged a shift back towards traditional industries.

Some have viewed his latest intervention as inflammatory and potentially destabilising, given his long track record of making waves within the party.

But Labor MP Stephen Jones, a Left faction member who represents a regional seat in the NSW Illawarra region, pointed out the city-country divide was nothing new.

“We’ve been dealing with it since the Whitlam reforms of the late 1960s,” he said.

“We do best when we focus on the issues that unite these groups: income, cost of living, and a plan to bring the whole country forward.”

Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers, often touted as a future Labor leader, delivered a speech in regional Queensland on Thursday.

Arguing engaging with regional communities would be crucial to recovering from the coronavirus recession, Chalmers said climate change “isn’t some inner-city preoccupation”.

“Climate change is a big part of the story here as well,” he told the Warwick Chamber of Commerce.

“Communities like this one and growers in particular are already among the most affected.

“We need to mitigate risks by ensuring that we continue to proactively work on both adaptation and climate change mitigation strategies.”

-AAP

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