Anthony Albanese set to become new Labor leader after Jim Chalmers exits the race.


Anthony Albanese is set to become the new Labor leader, but the race to be his deputy is hotting up.

Jim Chalmers pulled out of the contest to replace Bill Shorten, leaving Mr Albanese a free run at the top job.

The Queensland MP said he carefully considered running on a platform of generational change.

“But in the end I couldn’t be assured of winning,” Mr Chalmers said in a statement on Thursday.

“And if I did win, the extra responsibilities of leadership would make it much harder to do my bit at home while the youngest of our three little kids is only five months old.”

Victorian Labor right-faction MPs Richard Marles and Clare O’Neil are both considering standing for deputy leader.

“Many Labor people – particularly Labor women – have contacted me in recent days encouraging me to run for Labor deputy leader to ensure there is a woman in the leader/deputy team,” Ms O’Neil tweeted.

“One of the best things about Labor is that women are encouraged to put themselves forward for leadership roles and I know that will continue.

“I’m going to talk to a few colleagues about whether it’s possible for me at this point.”

Labor has aimed to have a man and a woman in the leadership duo, from different states and factions.


But with Mr Albanese coming from the left faction, the right outside NSW is paying the price for a lack of high profile women in the lower house.

Mr Chalmers spoke to Mr Albanese on Thursday morning.

“I will enthusiastically support him and work tirelessly with our team to give Australians the Labor government they need and deserve at the next opportunity,” Mr Chalmers said.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen pulled out of the race on Wednesday, a day after declaring his candidacy, having realised Mr Albanese had strong grassroots support.

Nominations for Labor leadership will close on Monday, but Mr Chalmers’ withdrawal makes the prospect of a contested ballot highly unlikely.

If there are no further nominations the Labor caucus is expected to meet next week to confirm the leadership team, including deputy leader and senior Senate personnel.

Who is Anthony Albanese?

Anthony Albanese – universally known as Albo – holds a unique position in the Labor hierarchy.

After Tony Abbott brought the coalition back to power in 2013, Albanese and Bill Shorten faced off for the Labor leadership under a new voting system.

The left-wing Albanese won the membership vote, but Shorten, from the right, won the caucus vote by a slightly greater proportion and became leader.

This left Albanese as a shadow behind Shorten, with the authority of being the people’s choice, ready should his leader stumble. Polls suggest he’s also the wider people’s choice.


With Shorten no longer in the running for alternative prime minister, Albanese is energised and making a second tilt.

He is someone who’s seen as somehow authentic, without Shorten’s factional baggage.

But Albanese is a great old factional warrior himself.

Albanese, 56, was brought up by a single mother in working class Sydney and imbued with three verities – the Catholic Church, South Sydney rugby league club and the Labor Party. He’s remained true to the latter two.

His father Carlo and his mother had a cruise ship romance which didn’t last. Albanese was brought up believing his father was killed in a car accident and only in his mid-teens was he told the truth. Years later he tracked his father down in Italy and had an emotional meeting with him and two half-siblings.

anthony albanese
Image: Getty.

Albanese did an economics degree at Sydney University. Like so many contemporary politicians, he honed his political skills there and started his rise in the left.

After graduating he worked for Tom Uren, the grand old man of the left, before becoming assistant general secretary of the NSW branch of Labor. He married Carmel Tebbutt, who became deputy premier of NSW.

In 1996 he went to Canberra as member for Grayndler and rose steadily through shadow ministry positions.

When Labor won in 2007 he became Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and government leader in the lower house.

Building Australia through roads, rail and ports was his passion. He set up Infrastructure Australia and used its work to get far greater funds out of cabinet.


At the same time he savaged the old government's "regional rorts" as National Party pork barrelling. He was that rare politician who could simultaneously scarify and be funny.

But he found nothing funny as Labor lurched from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard and back again. He was emotionally distressed as his party plotted and squabbled.

"I like fighting Tories. That's what I do," he said.

In some ways he's an old-fashioned politician.

He speaks well from the stump. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He will confront his critics - like when several hundred demonstrators descended on his electorate office. He'd outraged them by dismissing a self-styled "convoy of no confidence" protesting fuel prices and carbon pricing as a "convoy of no consequence".

As a senior member of the opposition, Albanese has been scrupulous in not directly criticising his leader.

However he has on occasion differed on policy, for example proposing a more consultative approach to big business.

Few doubt he's ready, willing and able to take over.

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When Anthony Albanese was 14, he learnt his mum had lied about his father's death.