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Ms Plibersek was left off Friday’s flight west for the party’s key event on Sunday, sparking speculation she had been benched by Labor’s campaign team.
But the former deputy leader delivered a cold reply as she snapped back bluntly: ‘It’s not a productive use of time to have everyone fly there and back.
‘It’s quite a small number of people going to the launch in Perth.’
Among those expected to be at the landmark launch are former PM Kevin Rudd, with ex-PM Paul Keating also tipped to be in attendance.
The popular Ms Plibersek has been a key omission from Labor’s election campaign so far, even when leader Anthony Albanese was in isolation with Covid last week.
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek has delivered an astonishing snub to Western Australia as she insisted it ‘wasn’t worth her time’ to go to the party’s launch in Perth on Sunday
Ms Plibersek has also dismissed claims of a rift with Labor leader Mr Albanese (pictured, with his partner Jodie Haydon)
She has even taken a back seat to the relatively minor shadow minister Jason Clare, who wowed the media pack during press conferences in Mr Albanese’s absence.
Insiders claim her role as deputy leader under Bill Shorten caused her and Mr Albanese to drift apart, while others believed the Labor leader felt she was too popular.
But Ms Plibersek hit back at the rumour-mongers on Saturday and said she will be busy in her own Sydney inner city constituency around Surry Hills and Kings Cross.
She will also be representing Labor at Sydney’s May Day rally on Sunday, she said.
Ms Plibersek dismissed claims of a rift with Mr Albanese, and allegations that there was a ‘woman problem’ in Labor, as ‘nonsense’.
She said the no-show at the launch was simply down to a diary clash and said: ‘ ‘I’m representing Albanese at the May Day rally and I have my own campaign launch which has been planned for several weeks.’
She said Labor’s policies on gender equality and paid domestic violence leave proved their commitment to women’s issues.
And she added: ‘We’ve got an incredible set of women leaders in the Australian Labor Party, extraordinary people like Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher.’
On the other side of the country, Mr Albanese paid tribute to Ms Plibersek, saying she was an ‘outstanding member’ and an extraordinary asset’.
He claimed Labor had been expecting the election to be called for May 14 and had planned a campaign schedule around that date which then had to be tweaked when the polling day was pushed back to May 21 by the government.
Labor had expected an international Quad summit of regional leaders on May 24 would have meant the election would be called on May 14.
Under the original timeline, the party launch had been due to be held last week, which would have allowed Ms Plibersek to attend.
Deputy leader Richard Marles will also miss the launch event as he is now also in isolation and recovering from Covid.
Shadow Treasury minister Jim Chalmers added: ‘The launch on Sunday in WA, we’ll have some of us there but not all of us there, and that’s appropriate.’