Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard Inga Williams

Labor party urged to focus on 'purpose', not 'self-interest'

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has moved to put an end to leadership speculation by urging Labor MPs to "put purpose before self-interest" between now and the election.

With the Labor leadership question already threatening to overshadow the final two sitting weeks before the September 14 election, Ms Gillard used the second last caucus meeting of the 43rd Parliament to call for unity.

While not mentioning the leadership issue directly, Ms Gillard stressed the need for caucus to be "focused on the nation, not ourselves", adding it was important Labor remained a "political party of purpose".

Ms Gillard said the caucus had shown "courage" in pushing through difficult reforms during the past three years.

She revealed Labor would campaign heavily on "jobs and the economy" when the campaign-proper began on August 12, as well as "debunking the ridiculous talking down of the economy".

The Prime Minister said Labor would also seek to highlight the public service job cuts in a number of conservative states as a sign of what would happen under a Tony Abbott-led government.

Meanwhile, a vote to restore caucus power to elect the ministry was delayed until after the election.

Don Farrell received unanimous support to delay the vote, which, if successful, would have stripped Ms Gillard and future Labor leaders of the ability to handpick their frontbench teams.

Labor changed the way it selected its executive in 2008 when Kevin Rudd was prime minister.


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