Australia

Why Penny Wong is backing Albanese for Labor leader

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Penny Wong will support Anthony Albanese in his bid to become Labor's next leader, as he vies for the role against Chris Bowen.

Prominent Labor frontbencher Penny Wong has confirmed she is backing Anthony Albanese to become the party's next national leader.

The South Australian locked in her endorsement on Wednesday, a day after shadow treasurer Chris Bowen launched his own bid for the role.

Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen have both declared they will stand for the Labor leadership.
Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen have both declared they will stand for the Labor leadership.
AAP

"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.

"He's got a capacity to speak to people across this great country, to speak to people in the regions and in the outer suburbs, as well as in our cities."

Penny Wong looks set to endorse Anthony Albanese as the
Penny Wong looks set to endorse Anthony Albanese as the "best person" to become the party's next national leader.
Getty Images AsiaPac

Senator Wong wants to remain Labor's leader in the upper house - a position she has held for many years.

Asked why she would not contest the Labor leadership ballot, she said: "I've never wanted that job and I'm supporting Anthony Albanese."

Biill Shorten stepped down as Labor leader following Saturday's defeat in the polls.
Biill Shorten stepped down as Labor leader following Saturday's defeat in the polls.
AAP

Senator Wong appeared to send a coded warning to interim leader Bill Shorten, amid reports he was actively trying to prevent Mr Albanese from becoming leader.

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Watch: Anothy Albanese confirms he's running for Labor leadership.
Watch: Anothy Albanese confirms he's running for Labor leadership.

"I would be surprised if that were occurring," she said.

"It wouldn't be consistent with the role of a former leader or current interim leader and it would undermine the unity that Bill has been such an important part in rebuilding."

Senator Wong and Mr Albanese are both from the left wing of the Labor party, while Mr Bowen is from the right.

Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says he's the best man for the job.
Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says he's the best man for the job.
AAP

However, his NSW right affiliates Tony Burke and Kristina Keneally are backing Mr Albanese instead.

Even still, the shadow treasurer is confident he has strong support after speaking to most of his colleagues.

"I think it's fair to say I would have majority support in a Labor caucus," he told ABC News Breakfast.

But Mr Bowen carries the burden of being the architect of Labor's unpopular plans to scrap franking credit tax refunds and cracking down on housing perks.

Anthony Albanese was the first Labor contender for the top job.
Anthony Albanese was the first Labor contender for the top job.
AAP

Mr Bowen says he will start with a blank policy slate if he becomes leader.

It's not too late for others to put up their hand for the Labor leadership.

Jim Chalmers has also thrown his  hat into the ring.
Jim Chalmers has also thrown his hat into the ring.
AAP

Labor's finance spokesman Jim Chalmers is being encouraged to run, but it's understood his thinking has been impacted by factional colleague Mr Bowen's announcement.

Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, from the left faction, ruled herself out on Monday, saying it was not her time.

The leadership will be decided by a vote of grassroots members and the federal parliamentary caucus, with each group given 50 per cent weight.

Caucus will not be told the result of the grassroots vote before MPs make their decision.

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