Leadership speculation continues as Rudd, Gillard clash rumoured: Midday roundup

Tensions continue to rise in the Australian Labor Party as Prime Minister Julia Gillard is predicted to be losing support from the party’s MPs, triggering speculations of an upcoming leadership spill.

Canberra has been on edge since late last week with rumours of a possible spill emerging from the Rudd and Gillard camps.

Reports have indicated a leadership challenge could come as early as sometime today, with Rudd continuing to gain support among MPs.

Respected long-time Labor statesman Simon Crean said to reporters this morning leadership speculation was “tearing at us from the inside”, as he signalled he might not support Gillard in a leadership ballot, but still urged the party to unite behind the Prime Minister.

Crean called on the party to “end the stalemate” and said the party disunity was “killing us”.

Yesterday, a prime Rudd supporter, Joel Fitzgibbon, confirmed party leadership speculation was rife, saying it was “stating the obvious” that there are concerns in the caucus.

“MPs are talking to one another about the state of our position in the polls and an election looming and what we are going to do to make ourselves more competitive,” he told reporters yesterday.

“No one knows what the numbers are because no number counting has been done,” he says.

ACCC will not oppose Commonwealth Bank, Aussie Home Loans deal

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it is not opposing the Commonwealth Bank’s proposed acquisition of the remaining 67% of Aussie Home Loans.

The Commonwealth Bank already owns 33% of the company’s shares.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement it considered competitive restraint in the industry.

“In reaching its view, the ACCC took into account the competitive constraint arising from the presence of a number of alternative suppliers of home loan products and mortgage distribution services,” he says.

Shares flat on Cyprus hopes

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat this morning, with investors hoping the European Union will be able to help diffuse the Cyprus banking crisis.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 3.2 points or 0.1% to 4,964.1 at 12.15 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 55.9 points or 0.4% to 14,511.7.



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