Bowen withdraws Labor leadership bid, clears way for Albanese to take top job


Chris Bowen has announced he will not contest the Labor leadership after a number of senior Labor ministers publicly declared their support for Anthony Albanese.

Labor's treasury spokesman Chris Bowen has announced he will withdraw his leadership bid, clearing the way for Anthony Albanese, who has the support of a number of senior ministers, to step into the top job.

Mr Bowen's announcement comes a day after he officially announced his candidacy, claiming he could "best serve the party as leader". 

But on Wednesday afternoon, the Member for McMahon - who led Labor's controversial plan to scrap franking credit tax refunds - said he would no longer be contesting the vote, leaving Mr Albanese as the only official candidate.

Chris Bowen has announced he will not contest the Labor Party leadership.
Chris Bowen has announced he will not contest the Labor Party leadership.

"I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot," he said.

"It's important that the next leader of the Labor Party has as broad support in the party as possible."

Mr Bowen said he believed he would have had the majority support of the caucus ballot, but conceded that Mr Albanese would win the rank and file vote of the country's Labor Party members "by a good margin".

Announcing his withdrawal, Mr Bowen said the Labor Party needed to urgently deal with the issue of people of faith within the party feeling as if they are not represented.

"It has been raised with me that people of faith no longer feel that progressive politics cares about them," he said.

"These are people with a social conscience who want to be included in the progressive movement. We need to tackle this urgently."

Leadership nominations have not yet closed and Mr Bowen, who is a part of the party's right wing, encouraged other MPs "to get into the ballot". 

It is still unclear if Queensland MP Jim Chalmers, who is also a member of the party's right, will nominate.

In a Tweet on Wednesday, Mr Chalmers said he would consider his options overnight.

Anthony Albanese on Labor Party leadership
Anthony Albanese on Labor Party leadership

"I'm talking to my colleagues about it. I don't think it's unreasonable that a few of us take some time to work out what we want to do," he said on Monday's QandA program.

Speaking after Mr Bowen's announcement, Mr Albanese said he was "confident but not complacent" about his ability to win the leadership if another candidate emerges.

Bowen withdraws Labor leadership bid
Bowen withdraws Labor leadership bid

"It is up to other members to consider whether they put themselves forward, as is their right," he said, adding that he believed he had the support of the majority of the Labor caucus.

He also said Mr Bowen was a "good mate" and would have a critical role in the party under his leadership.

While announcing his intention to run on Tuesday, Mr Bowen said Mr Albanese was a "friend" and that "he would make a good leader of the Labor Party".

Anthony Albanese has received the support of a number of senior Labor figures.
Anthony Albanese has received the support of a number of senior Labor figures.

Earlier on Wednesday, prominent Labor frontbencher Penny Wong locked in her support for Mr Albanese, who is favoured by Labor's left faction.

"Albo is the outstanding parliamentarian of our generation," she told reporters in Adelaide.

"Anthony Albanese knows who he is and he knows what he stands for. He's a man of authenticity and integrity."

Mr Albanese also has the backing of NSW MP Joel Fitzgibbon, health spokesperson Catherine King, senator Kristina Keneally, Victorian MP Andrew Giles, NSW MP Tony Burke, Queensland MP Terri Butler and spokesperson for climate change and energy Pat Conroy.

One Labor Party member told SBS Arabic that Mr Albanese had strong ties with the Arabic community and had their support.

"We don’t have power fights within the party. From the early moments of the election defeat, many known right-wing Labor members supported the nomination of Albanese," Khedr Saleh said.

"We believe he is the right person, and he is more than capable of connecting with the young Labor members."

Despite reportedly receiving the support of Labor leader Bill Shorten and former prime minister Julia Gillard, deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek dropped out of the leadership race on Monday, citing family pressures.

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