Albanese weighs in on Tasmania Labor drama

Anthony Albanese has backed Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White's campaign, despite infighting.
Anthony Albanese has backed Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White's campaign, despite infighting.

Anthony Albanese has weighed in on bitter internal stoushes marring Labor's Tasmanian election campaign, backing the "courageous" decisions of state leader Rebecca White.

Labor's bid to oust the Liberal state government at the May 1 poll has fallen into disarray after one candidate was forced to step down over "inappropriate" text messages and another criticised party policy.

Ms White told state party president Ben McGregor to quit his candidacy after messages he sent to a woman seven years ago came to light following a complaint to the party.

Mr McGregor said he had apologised to the woman at the time for the messages and that the complaint was part of a politically motivated smear campaign against him.

At his first appearance on the hustings, Mr Albanese said Ms White had shown she could make tough decisions amid a "bit of noise".

"It has shown that she has the courage and leadership capacity to lead Tasmania," the federal Labor leader told reporters in Launceston on Thursday.

Ms White earlier said she was left with no choice but to disendorse Mr McGregor after speaking with the woman who received the messages.

Earlier this week, Labor was left red-faced when Ms White asked the party's national executive to endorse popular mayor Dean Winter as a candidate after he was snubbed during preselection.

"She has received the backing of me and the national executive to do that and that's a good thing," Mr Albanese said.

"She now has the team in place she wants."

The initial decision not to select Mr Winter as a candidate in the southern seat of Franklin was seen to be driven by the state party's left faction.

Fellow Labor Franklin candidate Fabiano Cangelosi made waves by speaking out against the party's pokies policy and proposed tough anti-protest laws.

Labor, which campaigned on an anti-pokies platform in 2018, recently signed a deal with the hospitality lobby backing the rights of pubs and club to operate the machines.

"From time to time when you have a whole lot of candidates you'll have everyone not always on the same page," Mr Albanese said.

"But the Tasmanian Labor position (on poker machines) is clear and it's one I support."

At a press conference to announce $95 million in funding for TAFE, Ms White said she was in charge of a strong team.

"At the end of the day what matters is what we're proposing to do for the future of our state," she said.

The Liberals, meanwhile, pledged to negotiate a long-term partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service if re-elected.

Australian Associated Press