More MPs abandon support for Ripper
More MPs abandon support for Ripper

At least 18 Labor Party MPs no longer support their embattled leader, Eric Ripper, who has gone on a fortnight's holiday and refused to confront the latest leadership crisis.

Mr Ripper has remained silent on the issue since Friday, when seven MPs from the powerful Left faction's United Voice withdrew their backing.

_The West Australian _understands that another 11 MPs want leadership change and are prepared to support Rockingham MP Mark McGowan in a partyroom showdown.

Another potential candidate, Willagee MP Peter Tinley, yesterday ruled himself out of any contest, saying his support remained with Mr Ripper.

"I have not been approached for the position at all," he said. "My support is with Eric Ripper. The party supports Eric. I've heard nothing else to the contrary apart from what I've read in the newspaper."

But high-profile Labor member Alannah MacTiernan continued to push for change, saying the leadership had to be resolved before the first caucus meeting next month. "The move is on and once you get to that point it must be resolved," she said.

"There is an overwhelming view that action has to be taken."

Six MPs - Ben Wyatt, Paul Papalia, Rita Saffioti, John Quigley, Andrew Waddell and Peter Watson - are believed to be fully behind Mr McGowan.

A further five - Tom Stephens, Martin Whitely, Tony Buti, Fran Logan and David Templeman - think now is the time for change.

To win a leadership spill a candidate needs 19 votes from the Labor caucus' 37 MPs.

Like Mr Ripper, who has left for a holiday in the country, Mr McGowan was silent on the leadership question yesterday.

A Left faction powerbroker, United Voice union secretary Dave Kelly, also refused to say who his MPs would support.

Ms MacTiernan said the only contenders capable of shoring up support for Labor at next year's election were Mr McGowan or Mr Wyatt.

"I don't have a vote," Ms MacTiernan said. "But I think Mark or Ben Wyatt have the qualities to give the leadership a shot."

Last January, Mr Wyatt pulled out of a challenge that split the party's Right.

Mr Tinley, who is in the party's nine-member Right faction, surfaced yesterday to do a radio interview organised before the latest leadership developments.

The West Australian

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