As the Australian Labor Party licks its wounds and tries to regroup after losing the seemingly “unlosable” election, one man has been confidently touted as the party’s next leader: Anthony Albanese.
Albanese (or Albo affectionately) has diligently and loyally served the ALP for more than two decades. The 56 year old won Sydney’s inner west seat of Grayndler in 1996 declaring in his maiden speech that “progressive advancement” would always be at the forefront of his agenda.
“I will be satisfied if I can be remembered as someone who will stand up for the interests of my electorate, for working class people, for the labour movement, and for our progressive advancement as a nation into the next century.”
It’s a promise he’s kept to himself and his electorate. He continues to be a fierce champion for policy areas like action on climate change, workers’ rights, refugee support and equality for all Australians, despite being branded as “too left” by those in opposition.
Being raised by a single mother in inner Sydney housing commission, instilled in Albanese a fight for social justice.
In February 2017, Albanese penned an op-ed saying he had “nothing but admiration” for his hardworking mother and lambasted One Nation candidate David Archibald for his suggestion that single mothers made “a lifestyle choice” and were “too lazy to attract and hold a mate”.
“In 2016, we can do much better than political candidates like Mr Archibald promoting stereotypes and denigrating single mums, and for that matter, single fathers. Sole parents often do it tough. They deserve better,” he wrote.
Now, in the midst of a tousle for the ALP leadership with finance spokesman Jim Chalmers, Albanese is confident he’s the best man for the job. He vowed that a Labor Party led by him would have a “different emphasis” on how it would “create wealth” for Australians.
“We need to have a plan and explain the role of government working with the private sector to improve people’s security and living standards,” he said earlier this week after announcing his candidacy.
Despite many commentators believing Albo’s vision might be too progressive at a tenuous and timid time in Australian political history, he’s secured the robust support of many Labor heavy weights and several senior women in the party including Senator Penny Wong, Terri Butler, Catherine King and Julie Collins.
Crucially he’s also gained support from key members of the party’s right faction including Tony Burke and Senator Kristina Keneally who tweeted that Albanese was “best placed” to “reconnect with working people” and lead Labor to victory.
In light the election outcome, we need to reframe our policies and we need to listen to our members & supporters. We must reconnect with working people who did not vote for us. It’s my view that Anthony Albanese @AlboMP is best placed to do that.
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) May 22, 2019
Penny Wong described Albanese as an “outstanding parliamentarian of our generation”.
“Anthony Albanese knows who he is and he knows what he stands for. He’s a man of authenticity and integrity,” she told a press conference after announcing who she’d be supporting in the leadership ballot.
Earlier this week, Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek who was a hot favourite for the position, announced she could not “reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership.”
Chris Bowen also pulled out of the race yesterday, conceding he did not feel the numbers were in his favour.
Given the circumstances, and the support from his party Albanese said he felt “confident, but not complacent” that he would succeed.
Time will tell.