Anthony Albanese All But Certain To Be New Labor Leader As Bowen Bows Out
It's set to be ScoMo vs Albo, with the stalwart Labor MP from Sydney's inner-west left as the last man standing in Labor's leadership contest.
Labor's shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has conceded he isn't the right man for the job this time, paving the way for Anthony Albanese to assume the leadership.
Just days after a surprise and disappointing election defeat saw Bill Shorten quit as leader of the Labor Party, various ALP heavyweights have been circling to be his replacement.
Albanese declared his hand early, after being quickly named a likely contender in the wake of Shorten's resignation. He had vied with the Maribyrnong MP in 2013 for the leadership, ending ultimately unsuccessful in his bid, but has stayed on Labor's frontbench ever since.
Shorten's deputy, Tanya Plibersek, was also an early favourite -- but she officially dropped out of the race this week, citing family concerns.
Since she withdrew from the race, Labor bigwigs have lined up to pledge their support for 'Albo', including Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally.
Bowen, the architect of Labor's ambitious tax reform agenda ahead of the election, was seemingly the last serious contender for the leadership -- but on Wednesday, he withdrew from contention after throwing his hat in the ring just a day earlier.
"It's clear to me that I would have majority support in the actual caucus ballot. 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," Bowen said.
"But it's also clear to me that Albo would win the rank and file for good reason. He's a popular character. Hence I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot."
He said it was important for the next Labor Party leader to have as broad as support in the party as possible, particularly as Labor seeks to learn from the election.
"So earlier today, I reached the conclusion that not thinking it's really viable for me to win," Bowen continued.
"It wouldn't be fair to put the party through the cost of the process and the delay for the start of a new leader. "
This would, of course, pave the way for Albanese to face off against Prime Minister Scott Morrison at an election in three years time.
However, Bowen said he was bowing out early -- before nominations close -- in case anyone else who "feels they have something to add but might not be in the ballot because I'm in the ballot" wanted an opportunity to run.
Immediately following Bowen's conference, Shadow Minister for Finance Jim Chalmers said he was still being encouraged to run for leader, and will consider his options overnight. Fellow frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, who had flirted with a run, also said he would not challenge,
Both Labor and Liberal parties have strengthened their rules around replacing leaders in recent years, making another infamous leadership spill unlikely -- and meaning that the leader chosen by Labor in coming weeks will be the one that leads them to the next federal election.
Cast your mind forward, if you will, to election 2022: Albanese vs Morrison. Albo vs ScoMo. Inner-west vs The Shire. Rabbitohs vs Sharks. Photo ops in pubs every day of the week.
Let's see how that goes.
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