Australias bruised opposition elects new leader

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-48362272

Anthony AlbaneseImage copyright
EPA

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Labor has elected Anthony Albanese to lead the party

Australia’s Labor opposition has chosen Anthony Albanese as its new leader after the party suffered an upset in the nation’s general election.

Previous leader Bill Shorten resigned on 18 May, immediately after conceding the election to incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Albanese, a veteran politician, was elected unopposed as his successor.

“Together we can return our great party to government in three years’ time,” he said on Monday.

Labor is reeling from the election which delivered Mr Morrison’s conservative coalition a majority. The Liberal-Nationals had previously been in minority government.

Last week, Mr Albanese described the election loss as “devastating”, after months of opinion polls had indicated that Labor was expected to win.

The 56-year-old MP, from Sydney, has held senior positions in past Labor governments.

He previously lost the last ballot for the Labor leadership to Mr Shorten in 2013.

Who is Anthony Albanese?

  • Often known by the nickname “Albo”, he is from Labor’s left-wing faction
  • Raised by a single parent in public housing in Sydney before studying economics at the University of Sydney
  • Worked as a staffer for Labor politicians, before entering parliament in 1996
  • One of Labor’s most experienced MPs, he was briefly deputy prime minister to Kevin Rudd in 2013
  • He has held other portfolios including communications, infrastructure and transport.

Labor’s challenge

Mr Albanese, from the party’s left, has promised a “reset” of Labor’s policy agenda.

The party had campaigned on a comprehensive set of reforms, including climate and tax policy changes.

However, that ultimately failed to appeal to voters, with Labor suffering a 1.08% swing away from it nationally.

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It suffered its deepest losses in Queensland, where the party’s vote was reduced to six seats of a possible 30.

Much of the post-election analysis has focused on Labor’s reduced vote from its traditional working-class base.

MP Joel Fitzgibbon told media last week the party needed to “re-build support in regional Australia and amongst blue collar workers”.

The party’s former deputy Tanya Plibersek, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, and rising frontbencher Jim Chalmers were also eyed as potential leaders, but all withdrew from the race last week.

Ms Plibersek said she would not run for the role because of family reasons.

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