Australia election: Who is the Labor Party leader set to become the new prime minister?

Nearly 10 years of Liberal-National Party coalition government in Australia came to an end on Saturday as prime minister Scott Morrison conceded the election to Labor.

Mr Morrison, whose Liberal Party led the right-wing coalition, will be replaced by Anthony Albanese, who became leader of the opposition in 2019.

Nicknamed “Albo”, the Labor leader promised Australians “safe change” and unity in an election campaign that was dominated by the post-pandemic recovery, the cost of living, and national security against the backdrop of China’s increasing dominance in the region.

“I think people want to come together, look for our common interest, look towards that sense of common purpose,” he said after winning the election.

“I think people have had enough of division; what they want is to come together as a nation and I intend to lead that,” he added.

Although he is one of the country’s longest-serving politicians, Mr Albanese’s journey to the top has been less than straightforward. The son of a single mother living on a disability pension, the 59-year-old was raised in a council flat. He cites these experiences as having contributed to the formation of his progressive views.

He has become an advocate for the LGBT+ community, and has established a reputation as a fierce defender of Australia’s free healthcare system.

The first person in his family to finish school, Mr Albanese went on to study at the University of Sydney, where he gained a degree in economics and became involved in student politics. He was first elected to parliament in 1996, as John Howard, the then Liberal leader, rose to power.

He is a Catholic and a rugby league fan, who said during the campaign: “I came out [of the womb] with three great faiths – the Labor Party, the Catholic Church, and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.”

Anthony Albanese became leader of the opposition in 2019


Labor’s time back in power between 2007 and 2013 was marred by leadership squabbles during which Mr Albanese openly criticised both sides. Those years forged his reputation as a collaborator willing to work outside ideological lines in his role as leader of the house.

After losses in the 2010 election, Labor was saddled with the country’s first minority government in 70 years, requiring it to win support from conservatives or independents in order to pass laws.

But by one measure cited by political commentators – the number of laws passed compared with the number of days in office – it turned out to be Australia’s most productive parliament.

“There was an attempt to create chaos, but what Anthony did [as leader of the house] was to ensure that the work of government proceeded,” said Craig Emerson, who was trade minister at the time.

Aged just 12, Mr Albanese helped organise a rent strike that kept his mother’s public housing property from being sold off to developers. Those who know Mr Albanese say he is genuinely motivated by a mix of pragmatism and a concern for social justice that he gained during his childhood struggles.

“It gave me a determination, each and every day, to help the people like I was, growing up, to have a better life,” he told the National Press Club in January, recalling how at times he had depended on neighbours for food when his mother was unable to provide for him.

Aged 22, he was elected president of Young Labor, the party’s youth wing, and he worked as a research officer under the economic reformist government of Bob Hawke, Labor’s longest-serving prime minister.

“Anthony has … a capacity to look beyond the party political alignment,” said Robert Tickner, a former Labor cabinet minister. “[He] believes in this idea that there are people of good will in the community.

“He’s not someone who’s a sectarian.”


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