Fury over Labor leadership ‘stitch-up’
LABOR MPs are arcing up over a perceived stitch-up that would see Anthony Albanese win the party's leadership ballot uncontested.
Rising star Jim Chalmers is the only other Labor figure seriously considering running against Mr Albanese.
However it's understood he is being told to back off by one of the country's top union officials, who has warned there will be massive backlash within the ALP if Mr Chalmers runs.
Angry Labor MPs in Victoria are urging Mr Chalmers to run, even though his chances of winning are very low, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
They have reportedly warned that the party would face "six years in opposition" under Mr Albanese and describe him as too "old and tired" to win.
Mr Albanese has also been forced to fend off allegations he would be unable to win over Australians after his party's shocking election loss.
Former Liberal MP Christopher Pyne told The Project on Sunday Mr Albanese was "just too left wing to be the Prime Minister of Australia".
However, Mr Albanese appeared on the program last night where he hit back at the accusation.
"I'm from a very working-class background," he said. "I bring my practical engagement in politics to the fore.
"I'm a commonsense guy. I often take stances that sometimes upset the people in my own electorate, but I hope they respect me, they know that I'm prepared and want to stand up for what I think is commonsense propositions."
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen bowed out of the race yesterday, a day after declaring his candidacy, having realised Mr Albanese had strong grassroots support.
"I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot," Mr Bowen told reporters.
"So … not thinking it's really viable for me to win, it wouldn't be fair to put the party through the cost, the process and the delay for the start of a new leader."
Mr Bowen's withdrawal opened the door for another contender such as Mr Chalmers, a Queenslander who's also from the party's right, to take on the frontrunner from Labor's left.
Mr Chalmers, who has been in parliament since 2013 as the member for the Brisbane seat of Rankin, is expected to lay out his intentions today after considering his options.
"I'm being encouraged to nominate for leader and I'll now consider my options overnight," he said yesterday.
"Labor needs to rebuild, refresh and renew and I want to play a prominent role in that. What role is to be determined."
Mr Chalmers is being floated as a worthy challenger to Mr Albanese because he is a fresh face who hails from Queensland, a state in which Labor needs desperately to win back voters.
At least 18 MPs and senators have publicly supported Mr Albanese, including veteran South Australian senator Penny Wong.
Mr Albanese believes he has the support of enough of the caucus to ward off a challenger.
"I am confident, but not complacent, about being able to succeed if another candidate comes forward," he told reporters in Sydney.
The ALP national executive met last night to map out the leadership process, with nominations set to open today and close on Monday.
If Mr Albanese is not the only candidate, ALP members will have the chance to vote on their preferred leader through a postal ballot between May 31 and June 27.
The Labor caucus would then meet and cast their votes on July 1, with both the rank-and-file and parliamentary vote holding equal weight.
In the 2013 leadership battle with Mr Shorten, Mr Albanese won the grassroots support but lost the caucus vote.
Regional NSW MP Joel Fitzgibbon had been flirting with the idea for running for leader, if he didn't feel there was a candidate willing to give regional Australia a seat at the decision-making table or connect with its working-class base.
Having spoken with Mr Albanese, the MP is confident he would do both.
"He has a deep interest in rural and regional Australia - always has done," Mr Fitzgibbon told ABC's 7.30.