Australia

Labor leader Anthony Albanese prepares for reshuffle, says his leadership is secure


Labor leader Anthony Albanese will announce a rejigged frontbench lineup on the weekend, ahead of an expected federal election later this year.

Mr Albanese is facing pressure within the Labor caucus to do more to make up political ground lost to the Liberal-National coalition since the coronavirus pandemic struck a year ago.

Asked on Wednesday on the ABC’s 730 program whether he had allowed Prime Minister Scott Morrison to get away from him, in terms of approval, Mr Albanese said: “No, not at all.”

“One of the things we’ve seen in the pandemic is people have wanted leaders to succeed,” he said.

“What the next election will be about is … who has a better plan for the future to deliver a stronger economy, a fairer society, and deal with challenges such as climate change.

“I believe we’ll be very strongly positioned for it.”

Mr Albanese said he hoped to use the reshuffle to highlight Labor’s priorities.

“It’ll be announced at the weekend and I’m talking it through with colleagues and I’m sure that it will achieve a stronger team going forward with the right people in the right jobs.”

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten last week took what many interpreted as a thinly veiled swipe at his successor for adopting a “tiny” policy agenda in opposition.

Launching a collection of essays by members of the Labor Right faction, Mr Shorten argued the party must “stand for something” if it wanted to win.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon, who quit the frontbench in November, has spent months arguing the party is drifting too far to the left and losing touch with its traditional base.

He says more Labor members and supporters need to speak out about the party’s direction.

Mr Albanese said his leadership was “secure”.

Asked whether he lacked a “desire to actually become prime minister”, he insisted his ambition was for Labor to be in government.

“My ambition has never been about myself – it’s about what Labor governments can achieve for the sort of people that I grew up with,” he said, having been raised by a single mum in inner-western Sydney public housing.

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