DJ vs former mayor: what you don’t know about Labor’s next potential leaders

Another federal election lost, another Labor leadership ballot. Get to know the politicians who want to lead the Opposition.

The Liberal Party have gained a majority government in the federal election, in what has been described as the biggest public voting upset in Australia since Guy Sebastian beat Nollsy.

Now, the Labor Party need to choose who will lead them in opposition.

Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, this choice is important. Whoever becomes Opposition leader will shape political debate in the country for the next few years.

Left or right?

Unlike the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party is known for having official factions.

Labor Left are considered more socially and economically progressive. For example, this faction put pressure on the right faction to change their policy on offshore detention last year. Tanya Plibersek is part of the Labor Left.

Labor Right are more socially and economically conservative. Bill Shorten is part of the Labor Right.

Why should you care?

Factions play a major role in what positions people hold in the Labor Party - it influences who are friends, and who is going to look out for each-other.

How is leadership decided in the Labor Party?

In October 2013, Kevin Rudd reformed how the Labor Party elects its leaders.

It’s decided by a ballot of 50 per cent of the caucus and 50 per cent of Labor Party members. All votes are equal.

This system was first tested in 2013 when Kevin Rudd lost the federal election. Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese ran for Labor Party leader - Albanese won the Labor Party member vote, but lost the caucus ballot.

Bill Shorten became the Opposition leader, but now, there’s a new leadership race.

So far, Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen have officially put in their bid to lead the Labor Party.

Who is DJ Albo?

DJ albo
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Anthony Albanese is a darling of Labor’s Left and has been the member of Grayndler in Sydney’s inner-west since 1996.

He won the otherwise safe seat despite a massive swing against the Labor Party and toward a newly established No Aircraft Noise party, a minor party dedicated to removing noise pollution in Sydney.

Growing up in inner Sydney, Albanese was raised by a single Mum who was devoted to the Catholic Church, the South Sydney Football Club and the Labor Party. He was told his father died in an accident.

It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he learned the truth. His father was alive and his parents met on a cruise ship. It wasn’t until 2009 that he tracked down his father and learned he had two half siblings.

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Young Albo loved politics and football.

Albo inherited his love for Labor from his mother, entering student politics at Sydney University where he became part of Labor’s Left.

After graduating, he worked as a research officer for a federal minister, was the secretary of the Labor party and even worked for NSW Premier Bob Carr just before he became an MP.

Albanese has a long parliamentary CV:

  • Shadow cabinet minister - 2001

  • Minister for Infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government - 2007

  • Deputy Prime Minister - 2013

  • Shadow cabinet minister - 2013 to 2019

Albanese has also gained reputation for moonlighting as a DJ after he hosted an episode of ABC’s Rage in 2013. He has been spotted DJ-ing as recently as October last year in Canberra.

When his party lost the federal election on Saturday he was first to put up his hand for Labor leader.

Who is Chris Bowen?

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Chris Bowen was born in Sydney and was next door neighbour to soccer great Harry Kewell. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that they played together regularly.

He went to Sydney Uni, he wasn’t into student politics but was a member of the Labor Party.

When he graduated, Bowen’s family friend John Newman - a local NSW Labor MP - was killed in what has been described as the country’s first political assassination in 1994.

Bowen worked at Fairfield Council with Newman’s murderer, Phyong Ngo, before he was found guilty of the crime. When Ngo made a bid for mayor, Bowen threatened to take him to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Bowen told the Sydney Morning Herald that Ngo then threatened his life.

Phyong Ngo was arrested for Newman’s murder in 1998 and convicted in 2001.

In the year of Ngo's arrest, Bowen became Mayor of Fairfield - he was just 25 years old.

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Bowen was Mayor of Fairfield when he was just 25-years-old.

Five years later, Bowen was elected to parliament representing McMahon, formally known as Prospect, in Western Sydney.

Like Albanese, Bowen has a handsome political resume.

Bowen’s CV:

  • Shadow cabinet minister - 2006

  • Assistant treasurer and minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs - 2007

  • Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law and Minister for Human Services - 2009

  • Minister for Immigration and Citizenship - 2010

  • Shadow Treasurer - 2013

Two days after Albo put his hand up for Labor leadership, Bowen put his own hand up for the job.

He has been the Shadow Treasurer for nearly six years. He was the architect of tax policies  Labor took to the election...and it didn’t turn out so well.

Despite coming from different factions, he says he is mates with Albo and that they would both be great leaders. He wants the Labor Party to have choice.

It will be about a month before we will know who will become the opposition leader, with other candidates likely to put their hand up to contest the ballot. In the meantime, Bill Shorten will remain interim Opposition leader.

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