Australia

'No deals': Albanese unveils a new look Labor frontbench

0:00

Labor caucus has formally elected Anthony Albanese as opposition leader and chosen the MPs who will sit on his frontbench.

Labor's new frontbench has been shaped by factional deals and selfless sacrifices, but leader Anthony Albanese was determined there wouldn't be an "every player wins a prize" attitude.

The caucus met on Thursday for the first time since the election and approved a frontbench line-up nutted out by the factions over the past few days.

Newly elected Labor leader Anthony Albanese has given his first speech to the federal caucus.
Newly elected Labor leader Anthony Albanese has given his first speech to the federal caucus.
AAP

Mr Albanese will now allocate portfolios among the team.

The shadow cabinet and outer ministry has 16 members coming from the Right and 14 from the Left.

This matches the government's numbers of 30 frontbenchers, with Mr Albanese noting he had never wanted to outnumber the coalition's ministers.

"Now, I could have done that and that gives everyone a prize. I haven't done that. I did no deals to achieve the leadership of the Labor Party," he told reporters in Canberra before the caucus meeting.

Victorian MP Richard Marles took the party's deputy role unopposed while former NSW premier Kristina Keneally becomes Penny Wong's deputy in the Senate.

Senator Keneally was the beneficiary of two of those sacrifices, with NSW MP Ed Husic standing aside as a frontbench contender on Wednesday and South Australian senator Don Farrell ceding the Senate deputy leadership at the last minute on Thursday to allow her elevation.

She thanked them, saying their actions embodied Labor's commitment to the inclusion and support of women.

Mr Albanese said both men had made the decisions themselves without pressure from himself or any others.

Kristina Keneally is set for a prominent spot in the new look opposition.
Kristina Keneally is set for a prominent spot in the new look opposition.
AAP

But he had also made clear his desire to have the leadership team split evenly between men and women.

Queensland MP Jim Chalmers also paid tribute to Mr Husic's "selfless decision", saying it augured well for Labor's team culture.

"One of the challenges that we have in the Labor Party is that we've got too much talent to cram into 30 positions and so there are hard decisions that are made right throughout the party," he told reporters.

Labor MP Ed Husic
Labor MP Ed Husic
(AAP)

Another victim of the factional decisions was Andrew Leigh, who has been part of the frontbench economic team for the past six years but is unaligned within Labor's divisions and didn't secure another spot this time.

"To the many non-aligned members of the Labor Party, I urge you to stay engaged with Australia's oldest and greatest political party," he said in a statement.

Previous leaders Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek are retaining frontbench spots.

Mr Shorten told caucus the party had been "up against corporate leviathans, a financial behemoth, spending unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars advertising, telling lies, spreading fear" in the election.

Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten walk into the caucus meeting together. Mr Shorten told caucus the party had been "up against corporate leviathans.
Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten walk into the caucus meeting together. Mr Shorten told caucus the party had been "up against corporate leviathans.
AAP

But he said Labor would continue to be the party of progress, reform and the big picture.

"We in Labor are not going to waste time feeling sorry for ourselves because we are not in it for ourselves," he said.

Mr Albanese reiterated to the caucus meeting his intention to work constructively with Prime Minister Scott Morrison where possible.

"I want to be known as the Labor leader, not the opposition leader," he said.

"Chifley, of course, spoke about the light on the hill. We need to power that up so that every Australian in every corner of this vast continent can see the light that we offer."

The new shadow ministry will meet in Brisbane on Tuesday and afterwards its members will travel the country on a "listening tour".

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch