Photo that could mean trouble for Trad

JACKIE Trad's grip on her Deputy Premier and Treasurer role was yesterday dealt a bitter blow after Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders told colleagues he was planning to quit her Left faction.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the second-term MP informed some of his Labor caucus colleagues that he was resigning his factional allegiance to the Left after he and Ms Trad had a heated telephone argument.

Labor sources last night described Mr Saunder's decision as a "fit of pique" and "Bruce being Bruce".

Other insisted his shift was definite and damaging.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad’s Left faction could lose power in the Labor caucus. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad’s Left faction could lose power in the Labor caucus. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle

 

Mr Saunder's defection will shift the power balance in the Labor caucus away from Ms Trad's dominant Left faction and will add fuel the internal push among a band of MPs and party figures to remove her from the ministry.

The Courier-Mail revealed two weeks ago that forces within the Labor partyroom were agitating to remove Ms Trad from her powerful role in the belief she had become an electoral liability eight months from the state election.

It comes after the damaging integrity scandal that engulfed Ms Trad last year over her failure to properly disclose and declare her family's purchase of a property along the route of the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.

The latest opinion poll shows the saga has punched a hole in Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's popularity while her Government is locked neck-and-neck with the Deb Frecklington-led LNP and at risk of being shunted into minority administration on October 31.

 

(From left) Labor state secretary Julie Ann Campbell, United Workers Union executive Gary Bullock, Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Right faction operative and Government staffer John Persley.
(From left) Labor state secretary Julie Ann Campbell, United Workers Union executive Gary Bullock, Tourism Minister Kate Jones and Right faction operative and Government staffer John Persley.

 

The factional flare-up coincided with a secret meeting of Labor's ministerial leadership team at a Scenic Rim retreat.

A photograph obtained by The Courier-Mail showed Tourism Minister Kate Jones in talks with union powerbroker Gary Bullock and Labor state secretary Julie-Ann Campbell.

Mr Saunders could not be contacted last night.

However, his resignation comes after he told The Australian newspaper yesterday of "tense and frank" conversations with the Treasurer last year during the integrity scandal and how in the past he had told colleagues she should resign.

Mr Saunders insisted he had recently changed his mind and told Ms Trad she should "hang on".

Labor sources last night said Mr Saunders was telling colleagues that Ms Trad telephoned to confronted him over his comments, which had prompted his decision to quit.



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