Anthony Albanese is considered the frontrunner. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP
Anthony Albanese is considered the frontrunner. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

‘I’m confident’: Albo’s pitch for leadership

ASPIRING Labor leader Anthony Albanese has reiterated he is the best person to lead his party to victory in the next election.

Addressing media this afternoon after a dramatic few days for the party, Mr Albanese said he was "confident but not complacent" he would be successful in his bid for the party's leadership.

His press conference came shortly after Chris Bowen's announcement this afternoon that he was pulling out of the race.

Mr Albanese said he was honoured by the amount of support he had received from the Caucus.

"I've been ringing round Caucus members and I've also had discussions with party members.

"I'm very honoured with the amount of support I've received," he said.

"I believe that a majority of the Caucus have already committed to support my leadership if it goes forward in a contested position."

Mr Albanese addressed his 2013 loss to Bill Shorten who was elected party leader and Tanya Plibersek his deputy.

"I've been through an experience in the past, in 2013, where I put myself forward before the rank and file members of the Australian Labor Party and received majority support," he said.

"I'm confident but not complacent about being able to succeed, if another candidate comes forward. If they do, it is their right. We will have a respectful debate, as I would have with Chris Bowen."

He said Labor members were "still grieving from Saturday's result".

"It was very traumatic for the members of the party," he said.

"I've already said on Saturday night we needed to go out and discuss with members... what we can do to better listen and respond to their concerns so we have a better election night in 2022."

Mr Albanese said he was happy for anyone else in the party to put their hand up, addressing the fact Queensland MP Jim Chalmers was considering running.

Some have suggested Mr Chalmers will be gunning for the deputy leader job but Mr Albanese said "no arrangements, no deals" had been made.

 

Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen addressed the media separately this afternoon. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen addressed the media separately this afternoon. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Mr Albanese is currently the only confirmed contender in the leadership race, with Chris Bowen bowing out, announcing this afternoon he believed he couldn't win the rank and file vote only a day after he said he would oppose Mr Albanese.

Mr Bowen said he had been on the phone to colleagues over the last 48 hours discussing how his potential move was going to play out.

"I've been very pleased with the response. It's clear to me that I would have majority support in the actual caucus ballot," he said.

"Not a big majority, but majority support with some support from the left faction as well as support from the right faction, and people that aren't in any faction. But it's also clear to me, I'm a realist, that Albo would win the rank and file for good reason.

"He's a popular character. By a good margin. Hence I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot."

Mr Bowen said when he entered the Labor leadership race he was doing it to put certain issues on the agenda to be debated for our party.

"I thought that was really important. And I still think that's really important. I'm glad that Anthony and I have been able to do that," he said.

"From my point of view the Labor Party needs to look carefully at the lessons from Saturday. The lessons in the regions, the lessons in the suburbs, and ensure that we're reconnecting with people who used to vote Labor, but for some reason no longer feel comfortable doing so."

Mr Bowen indicated he would have won the leadership under the old system, but changes brought in by former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd give Mr Albanese an advantage.

"I was pleased with the way I was doing in the caucus ballot, but, you know, I look at how it would play out from there," he said.

"I think Anthony would have, as he had last time, a strong advantage in the rank and file.

"It used to be the case if you had the numbers in the caucus you'd get it. But it's no longer the system, so therefore that's what's changed."

Mr Albanese is currently the only declared candidate for the party's leadership, Mr Chalmers, from the party's right faction, this afternoon said he still might put his hand up.

After Mr Bowen's press conference, Mr Chalmers revealed he was still considering his options.

On Monday night Mr Chalmers told the Q&A panel on the ABC that he was considering vying for the leadership.

After his election defeat, Mr Shorten had reportedly been campaigning to quell support for his more left-wing former rival, who is understood to have support from Labor's NSW right faction.

Federal Labor frontbencher Penny Wong - another key figure in Mr Shorten's inner circle - has backed Mr Albanese as the "best person" to become the party's next national leader.

She would remain as Senate leader in the reshuffle.

Mr Bowen's backdown follows Labor's current deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's surprise announcement she would also not be running for the party's top job.

Ms Plibersek gave family reasons for the decision.

"I am very grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues, from party members and others, urging me to run for the Labor leadership," Ms Plibersek said in a statement.

"But now is not my time.

"At this point, I cannot reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership.

"I know some people will be disappointed with this decision.

"I intend to continue as deputy leader until the leadership is determined."


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