Labor leader Bill Shorten could be facing a weekend of dismal by-election defeats. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Labor leader Bill Shorten could be facing a weekend of dismal by-election defeats. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Shorten faces Super Saturday humiliation

LABOR is facing the wrenching prospect of losing every seat it contests against the Liberals in Saturday's multi by-election showdown.

And Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek today urged colleagues to stop talking about themselves, as party apprehension grows.

"The last thing we need to be doing is focusing on ourselves," Ms Plibersek told ABC radio.

She said: "The idea that what we need to do is start staring at our own navels … people will not forgive us for that."

 

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek has warned her party of ‘navel gazing’. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek has warned her party of ‘navel gazing’. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

But she acknowledged the difficulty Labor faced in winning two seats it previously held among the five facing special elections this weekend.

"These are two very tough marginal seats where we've got the best candidates and the best policies," she said.

"But we're working against the fact that they are seats which have, most commonly, been held by the LNP in Queensland or by the Liberals in Tasmania."

There will be five by-elections on Saturday with Labor going head-to-head with the Liberals in Longman (Queensland), Braddon (Tasmania) and Mayo (South Australia). Liberals will not be standing in Perth and Fremantle (Western Australia), which are expected to be retained by Labor.

The Liberals appear to be struggling to take back Mayo, were previous incumbent, the Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie, is performing strongly.

Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie is performing well in the Mayo campaign in South Australia. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz
Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie is performing well in the Mayo campaign in South Australia. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz

The greatest attention Saturday night will be on Longman and Braddon, both too close to call two days out.

Both were won by Labor in 2016 on preferences, with One Nation effectively blocking a Liberal victory in Longman. This time around, though, One Nation and its absent leader Pauline Hanson want supporters to preference against Labor.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today is again campaigning in Braddon where the Liberals believe they have a strong chance of blocking a return of Labor.

If the Liberal offensives in Longman and Braddon are successful, Labor would face the humiliation of being the first Opposition in decades to fail to take a seat from a government in a by-election.

Senior party sources said there would not be a move against Bill Shorten's leadership and repeated Ms Plibersek's call for no public navel gazing.

But a by-election wipe-out outside Western Australia would generate a review of leadership and policies.



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