Labor's Dr Mike Kelly, defeated in the seat of Eden Monaro, contemplates a possible move to the Senate when former foreign minister Bob Carr calls it a day.
Labor's Dr Mike Kelly, defeated in the seat of Eden Monaro, contemplates a possible move to the Senate when former foreign minister Bob Carr calls it a day.

Labor MP to jump ship over better offer

AS LABOR continues its intense political therapy session, its woes could get much worse, handing the Coalition a bigger majority, albeit a bigger headache.

Labor ranks are heavily speculating an unhappy Mike Kelly, who holds the NSW marginal seat of Eden-Monaro will quit parliament within months, after telling colleagues he has been offered a job based in Australia for a Silicon Valley firm.

Labor's Mike Kelly may be about to jump ship.
Labor's Mike Kelly may be about to jump ship.

Labor ranks are openly talking about how Kelly, who now just holds the seat by a wafer-thin 0.9 per cent, keeps blabbing about the job offer.

The speculation is also rife in the National Party, with highly-placed sources revealing Kelly and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro have discussed the issue.

Barilaro, who's office has refused to comment, will make the switch to the federal seat if Kelly resigns, an interesting gentlemen's agreement with a Labor Party MP.

If Barilaro packs his bags for a tilt at the big leagues, his sister-in-law, Bronwyn Taylor, a current Legislative Assembly minister in the Berejiklian government, is tipped to take his lower house seat.

Kelly has allegedly told Barilaro that if he resigns, he won't bust a gut for the Labor candidate, such is his bitterness for Labor.

Kelly is frustrated he is not opposition defence spokesman and is being accused by some of undermining Richard Marles, Labor's long-term defence shadow and deputy leader.

His office has denied the "rumours" but the problem for Kelly is that he has told so many of his own people that he is going to leave because of a better offer.

The talk is worrying Nationals leader Michael McCormack, whose leadership is panned by most in the Nationals.

If Barilaro wins the seat it will deliver the Morrison Government a bigger majority with 78 seats, but equally cause a number of headaches (although there would likely be a three-cornered contest between the Nationals, Liberals and Labor).

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro may move to federal politics if Mike Kelly bows out. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro may move to federal politics if Mike Kelly bows out. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

An extra Nats seat means the Nats will likely demand another Cabinet position - and there's no way McCormack has the proverbial to make demands of Morrison.

Those inside the junior Coalition claim McCormack is "s---ting" himself about Barilaro transplanting himself into federal parliament, given it is likely Barilaro would have leadership aspirations.

But this comes back to the wider problem with the Nationals.

Not since Howard's days, have the Nationals been so emasculated.

There are three contributors: McCormack is an anaemic leader, Morrison is happy to have a weak Nationals leader (because he does not want someone like Barnaby Joyce banging his fist on the table making demands) and the third is Pauline Hanson.

Hanson sucks votes from the Nationals and the One Nation leader is much better than the Nationals leader to tap into an issue brewing with voters.

Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the rest of the leadership team have yet to understand that a strong Nationals Party is a strong Coalition Government.

The Nationals are a very unhappy bunch.

They want McCormack to succeed but are resigned to the fact he will continue "to get walked all over by Morrison".

Yesterday, in Question Time, a Dixer on the drought went to Morrison. Yes, the drought is a national issue - and Morrison has made it one of his priorities. But the Nationals should be owning dams, drought and the plight of dairy farmers. Just like prime ministers before him, it is clear Morrison is not enamoured by his junior Coalition partner.

Those who wear the green and yellow colours know it and are getting fed up.

It's not about Joyce's leadership desires and the way it factures the party but just the general vibe they are being dudded.

There's now rumblings that some on the Nationals' backbench want McCormack to review the Coalition Agreement.

That is unlikely to happen.

The talk that the Morrison Government is stable and getting on with business is broadly correct but the rumblings have started.

Other prime ministers ignored with warning from the north before. It is not a wise move.