New federal Labor deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek understands that some senior MPs are disappointed they didn’t make it to the new opposition frontbench.
But she doesn’t accept claims the shadow ministry was being decided by a “couple of blokes”, pointing to the inclusion of 11 women.
With Labor getting ready for the return of parliament in the second week of November, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will reveal on Friday who gets which portfolios before Monday’s shadow cabinet meeting.
Victorian MP Anna Burke lashed out at factional power plays within caucus, saying she was “bitter and disappointed” at losing out on the position of chief opposition whip because of “a couple of blokes sitting round a room carving up the spoils”.
“I think Anna’s very focused on the half empty at the moment,” Ms Plibersek said on Tuesday.
“She’s speaking from a place of disappointment … she feels like she’s been overlooked.”
Ms Burke retains her position of Speaker until her Liberal successor Bronwyn Bishop is formally installed.
Her comments were followed by reports another senior Labor MP, Senator Jacinta Collins, was also disappointed at being overlooked, particularly by her own Victorian Right faction.
Although Ms Plibersek said she would meet Ms Burke to discuss her concerns, new Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said factions were a reality in all political parties.
“I think there was a broad cross section of people that were selected, and it’s probably a pretty reasonable line-up,” she said.
However, the former West Australian government minister said there could be improvements.
“It has been accepted that we must continually strive to do things better and in a more inclusive way,” she told reporters in Canberra.
Another Victorian Labor MP, Brendan O’Connor, said the opposition frontbench was far more representative compared to the coalition’s under Tony Abbott.
“We have almost four times the number of women in our ministry,” he said.