The half-Italian, half-Irish Australian, left, leads a student protest atop the University of Sydney clock tower.
The half-Italian, half-Irish Australian, left, leads a student protest atop the University of Sydney clock tower.

Who is Anthony Albanese?

He's the working-class, rock-star Labor MP whose 1980s university selfie saw him branded "hot Albo", but has long been labelled "too left" to lead the party.

After Bill Shorten's dismal failure in the unlosable election, however, this is Anthony Albanese's moment.

The 56-year-old MP for Grayndler in Sydney's west has been named the new leader of the Labor Party after other hot tipped contenders Tanya Plibersek declined to compete and Chris Bowen pulled out.

Earlier this month, Mr Albanese vowed a Labor Party he leads would have a "different emphasis" on how it would "create wealth" for Australians to the one Mr Shorten created.

This could be Labor MP Anthony Albanese’s big moment. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
This could be Labor MP Anthony Albanese’s big moment. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

"I think that one of the things we need to explain more clearly is how we will not only share wealth, but how we'll create wealth," he told The Project earlier this month.

"I have a long history of involvement particularly in the infrastructure side. I see investment in infrastructure as being critical.

"We do need to stand up for the environment when it comes to climate change and I don't think there's a contradiction … Good policy in terms of sustainability creates jobs.

"We need to have a plan and explain the role of government working with the private sector to improve people's security and living standards."

He had support not only from Labor's leader in the Upper House, Penny Wong, but from Kristina Keneally and Tony Burke on the New South Wales right.

Mr Albanese could be the man who succeeds where Mr Shorten fell short, providing a real challenge to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition government.

The 56-year-old is popular but has often been accused of being too left-wing to lead the Opposition.
The 56-year-old is popular but has often been accused of being too left-wing to lead the Opposition.

 

WHAT'S HIS PERSONAL BACKGROUND?

Growing up with a single mother in public housing in inner Sydney's Camperdown, Mr Albanese faced tough times from the start. His Irish mother Maryanne Ellery met his Italian father Carlo Albanese on a cruise ship, but the couple did not stay together and the young Anthony was told his dad had died in a car crash.

In 2009, he tracked down his father in Italy, and discovered he had two half-siblings.

He was always a hard-grafter, and started working full-time at Commonwealth Bank just weeks after finishing his HSC at his Catholic high school. He then switched to an evening and weekend job stacking shelves at Grace Bros department store, before landing his best-paid job at Pancakes on the Rocks, where he earned triple time for the Saturday overnight shift. The worst job was hosing pigeon droppings from a warehouse wall for $50 a day.

 

Mr Albanese with his mother Maryanne and ex-wife Carmel Tebbutt, the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Premier of NSW.
Mr Albanese with his mother Maryanne and ex-wife Carmel Tebbutt, the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Premier of NSW.

 

He worked throughout his years studying economics at Sydney University, where he met young people from privileged backgrounds for the first time, and discovered a world of possibility.

"I was the first person in my family to finish school, let alone go to university," he told news.com.au at his Marrickville office after publishing his book Albanese: Telling it Straight. "I'd never met anyone from the North Shore before."

In 2000, he married Carmel Tebbutt, former Deputy Premier of New South Wales, and the couple have a son, Nathan. They announced their separation in January.

WHAT'S HIS POLITICAL EXPERIENCE?

Albo started out as research officer to then Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services Tom Uren, became Assistant General Secretary of NSW Labor in 1989, and senior adviser to NSW Premier Bob Carr in 1995.

He won the seat of Grayndler the following year, telling parliament in his maiden speech: "I will be satisfied if I can be remembered as someone who will stand up for the interests of my electorate, for working class people, for the labour movement, and for our progressive advancement as a nation into the next century."

 

’Albo’ has long been a supporter of rights for same-sex couples, as well as being ‘pragmatic’ and on good terms with Liberal opponents.
’Albo’ has long been a supporter of rights for same-sex couples, as well as being ‘pragmatic’ and on good terms with Liberal opponents.

 

From 2001, he served as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors, Employment Services and Training and Environment and Heritage.

He was Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Regional Development and Local Government and Leader of the House of Representatives in the Rudd government in 2007 - described as the PM's "headkicker".

He told news.com.au of that time: "Keeping together the minority government, where we had 70 votes on the floor of the House out of 150, that was tough. It was enjoyable, it was fascinating, it was exhilarating, but it was tough."

He offered his resignation to Julia Gillard when she took over as PM, but she refused to accept it. When Kevin Rudd returned to power in 2013 with Mr Albanese's support, the Grayndler MP became Deputy Prime Minister, but after Labor crashed out of government, he narrowly lost the leadership race to Mr Shorten.

He served as Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Shadow Minister for Tourism and Shadow Minister for Cities in Mr Shorten's cabinet.

 

The former deputy prime minister split from Ms Tebbutt in January. Picture Gary Ramage
The former deputy prime minister split from Ms Tebbutt in January. Picture Gary Ramage

 

WHAT DOES HE CARE ABOUT?

"Albo is the outstanding parliamentarian of our generation," Senator Wong told reporters in Adelaide yesterday. "Anthony Albanese knows who he is and he knows what he stands for. He's a man of authenticity and integrity.

"He's got a capacity to speak to people across this great country, to speak to people in the regions and in the outer suburbs, as well as in our cities."

The Labor leadership candidate supports social care, childcare provision, diversity and indigenous rights. He campaigned for the rights of same-sex couples to superannuation from early in his career, and supported marriage equality. He fought against nuclear power during John Howard's tenure as prime minister, but caused controversy when he labelled a group of protesters against carbon pricing and rising fuel costs "the convoy of no consequence".

Like his mother, Mr Albanese is a lifelong supporter of both Labor and the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but he gave up practising Catholicism.

He's an ardent indie music fan, who adores The Smiths, Joy Division and The Pixies.

Most of all, he has always loved politics and activism.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?

"What you see is what you get with me," he told the ABC's 7.30 on Monday. "And I think I'm in the best position to take Labor forward into government."

He has previously accused the government of being "complacent", but is not afraid to fraternise with the enemy, even striking up an unlikely friendship with former Liberal MP Christopher Pyne, who on Sunday accused him of being "just too left wing" to be prime minister.

"I'm pragmatic," Mr Albanese told news.com.au. "I want to make a difference, not just make a noise."

Speaking about his battles against the Greens in 2016, he told news.com.au: "I'm in the Labor Party because I want to be in a party of government, not a party that protests government decisions after they've been made. I want to make those decisions."

Discussing Labor's failed election campaign, he told The Australian that he wanted to drop the "terrible" anti-business language.

"Unions and businesses have a common interest," he said.

"Successful businesses are a precondition for employing more workers, and that is obvious … if elected, I would look for solutions, not arguments.

"We need to be able to explain how government can ensure change is in the interest of working people."

He told news.com.au he believes many in government are "complacent" and think they have a right to be in charge. "Too many of them have come from a born to rule mentality and they think government's easy - it's not.

"I had to fight for things, and I think if you're about change, then it's more likely that you'll have to fight for it than if you're about the status quo."


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