Australia

'We were up against corporate leviathans': Shorten hits back after election loss

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Bill Shorten has formally handed over the Labor leadership to Anthony Albanese.

Outgoing leader Bill Shorten has told his Labor colleagues he wants to help unite the party and learn the lessons from their disappointing defeat at the polls. 

Mr Shorten avoided the cameras on his arrival at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday before addressing the first Labor caucus meeting since the election loss.  

The former opposition leader, who stepped down after failing to secure victory on 18 May, took the opportunity to single out a key factor for the unexpected loss. 

Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten walk into the caucus meeting together.
Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten walk into the caucus meeting together.
AAP

"Rather than commentators' snap judgments, or hindsight masquerading as insight, we were up against corporate leviathans, spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling lies, spreading fear," he said.

"Powerful vested interests campaigned against us. Through sections of the media itself, and they got what they wanted."

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He congratulated his replacement Anthony Albanese, while thanking the former members of his leadership team. 

"In the end, all of us are only passing through. And each of us has a responsibility to think big, to think boldly, to leave this place better than we found it," he said.

Rebuilding task begins

Mr Albanese told the meeting he welcomed Mr Shorten and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's ongoing contribution.

"You will have significant roles to play, not the least of which will be to give me advice about how my performance can be improved, and a way forward," he said.

"You have been through the furnace that is a federal election campaign."

Labor Party leader elect Anthony Albanese speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, 30 May 2019. The 46th parliament is expected to open in the first week of July, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Anthony Albanese is finalising his front bench.
AAP

Mr Albanese has vowed to tour the country to listen to voters who shunned the party at the election. 

"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," he told his colleagues. 

The meeting will confirm the makeup of the Opposition's shadow ministry, however, Mr Albanese will take a few more days to determine who will hold which portfolios. 

It's understood Chris Bowen, who withdrew his nomination for Labor leader last week, will lose the treasury portfolio to rising star Jim Chalmers. 

Ed Husic announced yesterday that he would stand aside to make way for Kristina Keneally to be promoted to the front bench. 

Senator Keneally will replace Don Farrell as Labor's deputy Senate leader.

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