Anthony Albanese has been elected unopposed as the next leader of the Labor Party and has reiterated his support for high speed rail, after Bill Shorten stepped down following the party’s shock election defeat on May 18.
Albanese said on Monday he was “honoured and very proud” to be named the party’s twenty-first leader. In his first speech as Labor leader he explained his belief that government has a role to ensure change in the interest of all Australians.
“The economy must work for the people, not the other way around,” he said. “The key to growing the economy is investing in infrastructure and investing in people through education and skills.”
He also spoke proudly of his “ongoing and what will be continuous advocacy for high speed rail down the east coast of this country.”
Albanese, 56, was selected as the Labor Party’s new leader after a range of potential rivals fell away throughout last week.
Tanya Plibersek, deputy under Bill Shorten, opted not to run for party leader due to family commitments. Chris Bowen exited the race roughly 24 hours after announcing his candidacy. Then Jim Chalmers, tipped to run on behalf of the party’s Right faction after Bowen pulled out, announced he would not, and instead supported Albanese’s bid.
While it is yet to be formally announced, it has been widely reported that Victorian MP Richard Marles will most likely be the Albanese’s deputy, an appropriate choice given he is from a different state and faction to Albanese.
Albanese has been a prominent figure in Australia’s transport and infrastructure sector for well over a decade. He served as shadow minister for water and infrastructure after Kevin Rudd became Opposition leader in December 2006, and was subsequently made minister in that portfolio after Rudd was elected in 2007. He held that position under Julia Gillard’s leadership, and again under Rudd’s second term, leaving the role only when Labor was defeated at the election in 2013.
Albanese has served as infrastructure and transport shadow minister since.