Former NSW opposition leader Michael Daley has put his hand up for a second stint as Labor leader, likely prompting a party leadership ballot.
Mr Daley took over from Luke Foley as Labor leader in late 2018 and led the party to its 2019 state election defeat before moving to the back bench.
However he told reporters on Sunday that he’d look to regain the Labor leadership following the resignation of Jodi McKay on Friday.
After defiantly staring down threats to the party leadership for six days, Ms McKay abruptly fell on her sword on Friday, leaving the top job vacant.
Mr Daley has since expressed his view that Ms McKay was unfairly treated and should never have been “forced out” of the leadership. He also said Labor members must have a say in the next leader.
“(Members) own the party, not the apparatchiks,” Mr Daley said.
“Please help me heal our party and win government in 2023.”
Ms McKay on Friday said she was not asked to resign, but made it clear she was quitting under duress and accused others of internal “destabilisation”.
Privately and publicly, her allies say she was white-anted as opposition leader.
“If a ballot was held today I can tell you I would win,” Ms McKay tearfully told reporters.
The leadership ambitions of former shadow transport minister and Ms McKay’s rival in the 2019 ballot, Chris Minns, are no secret.
Mr Minns is yet to formally put himself forward for the leadership but if he does so, it will trigger a new leadership contest with Mr Daley.
Since 2013, Labor party rules require that the caucus and the rank-and-file members vote to elect a leader if more than one person contends.
That would likely leave the party in turmoil for weeks, and without a leader when the Berejiklian government hands down its budget in late June.
However federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese on Saturday said he was unperturbed by NSW Labor’s leadership dilemmas.
The relevance of last week’s Upper Hunter by-election defeat was greatly overstated, he said, and he backed Labor to sort its issues out.
Labor’s Upper Hunter first-preference vote dipped from 29 to 21 per cent.
Adam Searle, who leads the opposition in the upper house, is acting leader.
“I intend to heal the party if I’m the leader (and) look after, as I’ve always done, the ordinary people in NSW who’ve been forgotten,” Mr Daley said.