It would appear that Anthony Albanese will ascend to the throne of Opposition Leader without challenge, after Chris Bowen withdrew himself from consideration for the job of Labor leader this afternoon, a mere two days or so after initially throwing his hat in the ring.
Bowen reportedly did not secure the support necessary to mount a serious challenge for the Labor leadership, with various media outlets asserting he failed to gather crucial backing of the party’s right faction and the CFMEU.
In a short press conference in front of his electorate office a few moments ago, Bowen asserted that he believed he had the majority support of the caucus, but Albanese had a clear and unassailable lead in rank-and-file member votes, making any serious leadership bid a likely futile effort.
Over the last 48 hours I’ve been on the phone to colleagues. It’s clear to me I would have the majority support in the caucus ballot. It’s also clear to me, I’m a realist, that Albo would win the rank and file by a good margin.
Earlier today I reached the conclusion that, not thinking it’s really viable for me to win, it wouldn’t be fair to put the party through the cost of the process and the delay to the start of a new leader.
Bowen also, strangely enough, addressed Saturday’s election defeat and asserted that the Labor Party had to “urgently deal” with “people of faith” in the community who no longer feel safe voting for the Labor Party, and who feel passed by in terms of progressive party policy.
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.
I also wanted to ensure through the leadership process that the party urgently deals with the matter of people of faith in our community not feeling that the Labor party talks to them.
People of faith feel the progressive politics no longer cares about them.
Ballots for Labor leadership remain open until Friday when the nomination process ends, however Bowen’s withdrawal paves the way for Albanese to grab party leadership unopposed.
Reports suggest that an internal deal is expected to give the party’s deputy leadership to Queensland right faction MP Jim Chalmers. However for whatever that’s worth, Chalmers openly opined about pursuing outright Labor leadership shortly after Bowen’s press conference concluded.
I feel for Chris & I know it would’ve been hard for him to pull out. I’m being encouraged to nominate for leader & I’ll now consider my options overnight. @AustralianLabor needs to rebuild, refresh & renew & I want to play a prominent role in that. What role is to be determined.
— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) May 22, 2019
The rumoured party deal would also see Senator Penny Wong retain her leadership position in the Senate, while NSW senator Kristina Keneally would take the deputy senate leader position from incumbent Shoppies union lackey Don Farrell.
A formal confirmation of the new Labor leader is not expected until after nomination ballots close at the end of the week.