Albanese says Shorten welcome on frontbench


Anthony Albanese says his Labor predecessor, Bill Shorten, still has a place in the party.

New Labor leader Anthony Albanese has declared his predecessor Bill Shorten has a place on his frontbench if he wants it.

In an exclusive interview with SBS News on Wednesday, Mr Albanese said he had no qualms with Mr Shorten continuing in a prominent opposition role.

"If Bill Shorten wants a place on the frontbench, there is certainly one on the frontbench of the party that I lead," he told SBS News.

Mr Shorten has reportedly been seeking the health portfolio after stepping down as leader following Labor's shock election loss.

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese talks to SBS News.
SBS News

But regarding the future of Chris Bowen - who was initially poised as a challenger for Labor leadership - Mr Albanese said he would continue discussions. 

Mr Albanese will meet with his caucus in Canberra on Thursday to begin finalising new arrangements for his party.

"We need to be not despairing about the outcome, we need to be determined to ensure we get it better next time," he said.

Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten on the campaign trail.
Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten on the campaign trail.

But the Labor leader said he intended to "hasten slowly" around major policy or tactical decisions.

"If you do the same thing, you should expect the same outcome, that is why we will examine, over a period of time, exactly what we did wrong, listen to people, listen to that feedback."

Commitment to Uluru Statement

Mr Albanese said "all our specific policies are up for grabs, but not our values," and went on to reassert Labor's commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The statement calls for an Indigenous voice to parliament and a Makarrata Commission, which would supervise a process of "agreement-making" and "truth-telling".

"Australia is diminished when we don't recognise the first Australians in our Constitution. That is very important. The Uluru Statement was the product of a great deal of consultation," he said.

The Sydney MP has also dismissed the idea it would bring about an "extra chamber of parliament," as the government has suggested.

But he said he would "work with the government because that's the only way you change the Constitution in this country, with bipartisan support".

Richard Marles is set to be Mr Albanese's deputy, with no other challengers putting their names forward to replace Mr Shorten or Tanya Plibersek.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his ministers were sworn in at Government House in Canberra. 

The new Morrison frontbench largely keeps key positions in place but also promotes some first-timers to new roles.

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