Former Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has warned Anthony Albanese's leadership is now on notice slamming climate change zealots in his party as the "cheese cloth brigade" after an ugly brawl in the shadow cabinet where he called a senior colleague as "an idiot".

The veteran MP has warned Mr Albanese his leadership is in "trouble" after he sensationally quit the frontbench on Tuesday after an argument over the implications of the US election result and climate change policies.

"I hope he can turn it around. I've given him a wake up call to do better. If he doesn't do better I think he's in trouble,'' Mr Fitzgibbon told news.com.au.

Mr Fitzgibbon remains the convener of the Right faction in Parliament that traditionally makes and breaks Labor leaders.

The maverick MP has been a significant player in multiple leadership changes going back decades to the Mark Latham years.

During the fight over climate change policy on Monday night, Mr Albanese opened with a discussion over the US election results and the Queensland election before issuing a veiled swipe at Mr Fitzgibbon.

Mr Fitzgibbon responded "I'm right here mate" and the pair then argued about the lessons of recent election results on climate change.

Mr Albanese challenged his frontbencher on whether he had actually spoken to any of the Queensland campaign chiefs before Mr Fitzgibbon tartly replied that he had spoken to them and knew exactly what the lessons were.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese (right) and Joel Fitzgibbon. Picture: ABC
Labor leader Anthony Albanese (right) and Joel Fitzgibbon. Picture: ABC


But when Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus interjected Mr Fitzgibbon was a "disgrace" the fight exploded.

"Shut up, you idiot. You just assured me I'm on the right path,'' Mr Fitzgibbon replied.

As Mr Albanese urged Mr Dreyfus to stay out of the fight, the deputy leader Richard Marles tried to motion to Mr Albanese to calm down and take control of the meeting.

Asked what sort of climate change policy the party should settle on, Mr Fitzgibbon told Sunrise's David Koch this morning that Labor needed to listen to workers.

"I want an effective one. There is no doubt that the majority of Australians and in the Australian government want us to join the rest of the world,'' he said.

"What concerns me, Kochie, is overreach or in other words, climate change policy which is so ambitious it is not capable of being embraced by the Australian community stopper but is not embraced by the community, which has been the case over the last two elections, then it stays in the top drawer after the election. You can't give effect to climate change policy if you are perpetually in Opposition."

Labor MP Mark Dreyfus.
Labor MP Mark Dreyfus.


Asked if he planned to challenge for the leadership or not, Mr Fitzgibbon dodged the question joking he was more interested in watching rugby league.

"I will tell you what I will be doing, Kochie. I will be in the caucus room tonight watching the State of Origin, watching the State of Origin, watching the Blues,'' he said.

"But I do promise this we won't be having a beer for every dust-up we have had.

"Anthony Albanese is our leader. He will lead us to the next election. I believe he is a good leader that I think he could be a better leader if he listened to what I might describe as the pro-industry side of the debate."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused "ideological zealots" of driving out Mr Fitzgibbon.

"The Member for Hunter has been driven out of the shadow cabinet," Mr Morrison said.

"Driven out by an ideological group of zealots on that side of the House who have no interest in the jobs of Australians in regional areas.

Originally published as 'Shut up you idiot': Ugly Labor brawl



Woman injured at Boyne Island boat ramp

Premium Content Woman injured at Boyne Island boat ramp

Paramedics were called to the ramp on Friday morning after the woman slipped.

How your smartphone can keep you crocodile-safe

Premium Content How your smartphone can keep you crocodile-safe

Crocodile numbers have exploded since they were protected and the app is designed...

‘Stole her childhood’: Man forced stepdaughter into sex acts

Premium Content ‘Stole her childhood’: Man forced stepdaughter into sex acts

WARNING, GRAPHIC. The man aged 51-52 committed a number of sexual offences against...