Next sitting period may decide PM�s fate
Illustration: Toby Wilkinson/ The West Australian

There are a few people in Parliament who collectively - and in some cases, individually - have the power to call time on Julia Gillard's leadership.

There are those who have practical influence insofar as they control numbers, such as Bill Shorten, Don Farrell, Stephen Conroy, Mark Butler and David Feeney.

Then there are those who have a moral influence within caucus because of their seniority or status, including Simon Crean, Greg Combet and Anthony Albanese.

For many and varied reasons, none of the above is ready or will ever be ready to tap the Prime Minister on the shoulder. Dislike and distrust of Kevin Rudd is one reason. There is also a fear that moving on another PM will only send Labor deeper into a death spiral.

No one knows how this will progress over the coming weeks and those who claim they do are lying.

Adding to the uncertainty is that even those who desire a return to Mr Rudd can't say how this would be engineered.

But it is agreed that the necessary precondition for anything to happen would be that ALP MPs and senators are all together.

That means the Parliament sitting period beginning March 12 may be critical in determining the bookend to Ms Gillard's prime ministership.

With two Newspolls and one Nielsen poll scheduled between now and then, Ms Gillard will continue to be stalked by the leadership issue, even if she is not being stalked by Mr Rudd himself.

The West Australian

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