NATIONAL: Former Labor president and Bundjalung man Warren Mundine has firmed as the frontrunner to replace Mark Arbib in the Senate after two former NSW premiers decided not to put their hands up.
Mr Mundine has confirmed he is interested in the opportunity and is likely to make an announcement one way or another today.
“I think it would be good, but for me it’s now just getting behind the process and then supporting the prime minister in moving forward,” Mr Mundine, who sought Senate pre-selection in 2001, told ABC Television.
“I will make a decision in 24 hours.”
Former NSW premiers Bob Carr and Kristina Keneally have both ruled out filling the vacancy left by Mr Arbib’s shock resignation on Monday.
It is believed NSW Labor approached Mr Carr, who reportedly requested the foreign affairs portfolio as a condition of accepting.
But the speculation surrounding Mr Carr was shortlived, with ALP NSW General Secretary Sam Dastyari revealing Mr Carr had rebuffed the party’s advances.
“NSW Labor would have loved to see Bob Carr in the Senate,” Mr Dastyari tweeted.
“Unfortunately his answer to us is still no.”
Mr Dastyari had earlier said he expected about six people to throw their hats in the ring for the position.
Ms Keneally – who remains in the NSW parliament after losing last year’s state election – was also quick to rule out a move to federal politics.
“I’ve said many times that I’m not going federal,” she tweeted.
“I’m not a candidate. But thank you for all the kind tweets.”
Foreign policy commentator Michael Fullilove has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Mr Fullilove was an adviser to former prime minister Paul Keating and now works for the Lowy Institute.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to go into detail as to who might replace Mr Arbib but said she wanted a “high-quality” candidate.
Ms Gillard will be personally involved in choosing the new senator.
“We – and by we I mean Labor and me as prime minister – will present a candidate that has the attributes and capacities to add to the Labor team,” she told reporters.
Mr Arbib, a factional powerbroker, announced he was stepping down to help Labor heal after this month’s bruising leadership contest.