Anthony Albanese

"Anthony Albanese"
by Toby Hudson
Anthony Norman Albanese (pronunciation: /ˌælbəniːz/ al-bə-neez; born 2 March 1963) is an Australian politician who represents the Division of Grayndler for the Australian Labor Party as well as being the party's spokesperson on Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Previously he served as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Leader of the House of Representatives. He has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 1996.

Education and early career

Albanese was born in the inner Sydney suburb of Camperdown and was educated at St Joseph’s Primary School in Camperdown and St Mary’s Cathedral College in Sydney. He was raised by a single mother and said she raised him with “three great faiths: the Catholic Church, the South Sydney Football Club and Labor”, adding that he had always remained faithful to the latter two.

After finishing school, he worked for the Commonwealth Bank for two years before studying economics at the University of Sydney. There he became involved in student politics and was elected to the Students’ Representative Council. It was also where he started his rise as a key player in the left faction of the Labor Party.

Albanese completed his degree and took on the role of research officer to the then Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services, Tom Uren, who was to become something of a mentor to him. In 1989, the position of Assistant General Secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party became vacant when John Faulkner was chosen for a Senate seat and Albanese took on the role for the next six years. In 1995, he returned to policy work as a senior adviser to the Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr.

Political career

When Jeannette McHugh announced she would not recontest her seat of Grayndler at the 1996 election, Albanese won preselection for the seat. The campaign was a difficult one, with aircraft noise a big political issue following the opening of the third runway at Sydney Airport, and the newly established No Aircraft Noise party (NAN) having polled strongly in the local area at the 1995 NSW election. Veteran political pundit Malcolm Mackerras predicted NAN would win the seat. However, they ran third, with less than 14% of the vote, and Albanese was elected with a comfortable 16-point majority.

Opposition 1996–2007

In his maiden speech to parliament, he spoke at length about aircraft noise and the need to build a second Sydney Airport, as well as his support for funding public infrastructure in general, multiculturalism, native title, the social wage and childcare. He concluded by saying, “For myself, I will be satisfied if I can be remembered as someone who will stand up for the interests of my electorate, for working class people, for the labour movement, and for our progressive advancement as a nation into the next century.”

In his first year in parliament he continued this theme speaking up on behalf of the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation, indigenous people in the Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy and entitlement to superannuation for same-sex couples. This latter issue became something of a crusade for Albanese. In 1998 he unsuccessfully moved a private member’s bill that would have given same-sex couples the same rights to superannuation as de facto heterosexual couples. Over the next nine years, he tried three more times without success, until the election of the Rudd Labor Government in 2007 saw the legislation passed. Albanese has since turned his attention to marriage equality for same-sex couples.

In 1998, Albanese was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary, a position which assists ministers and shadow ministers and is often a stepping stone to a full ministerial position. In 2001 he was promoted to the opposition shadow ministry with the portfolio of Ageing and Seniors. A 2002 reshuffle saw him become Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training and in 2004 he became Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage. It was during this latter role that then prime minister John Howard and science minister Brendan Nelson started raising the idea of nuclear power for Australia. Albanese campaigned strongly against them and elements within his own party, arguing, “Nuclear energy doesn’t add up economically, environmentally or socially, and after more than 50 years of debate, we still do not have an answer to nuclear proliferation or nuclear waste.”

In 2005, he added Shadow Minister for Water to his existing responsibilities and was also appointed Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House. In December 2006, when Kevin Rudd became opposition leader, Albanese took over from Julia Gillard as Manager of Opposition Business in the House, a senior tactical role on the floor of the parliament, and was appointed Shadow Minister for Water and Infrastructure.

Rudd and Gillard Governments 2007–13

Following Labor’s victory at the 2007 Federal election, Albanese’s rise in standing within the Party was evidenced by his appointment as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and Leader of the House of Representatives in the Rudd Ministry. The new ministry was sworn in on 3 December.

The Labor Party had gone to the election criticising the previous government for ignoring “long term nation building in favour of short term political spending”. One of Albanese’s first moves as Minister was the establishment of an independent statutory body, Infrastructure Australia, to advise the Government on infrastructure priorities. Armed with advice from this independent body and his own persuasive skills in the Cabinet, he was able to argue for a doubling of the roads budget and a tenfold increase in rail investment. Projects delivered through the Infrastructure Australia process included Melbourne’s Regional Rail Link, the Hunter Expressway, the Ipswich Motorway, the Gold Coast light rail system GoldLinQ, the Moreton Bay Rail Link, the extension of the Noarlunga Centre railway line to Seaford, South Australia and various projects along the Pacific Highway in NSW and Bruce Highway in Quensland.

Opening the Holbrook Bypass in 2013

It was in his role as Leader of the House where he excelled. A year into government, he was described as “Rudd’s headkicker in Parliament, where he has been one of the standout performers for Labor”. Following the 2010 election which resulted in a hung parliament, Albanese was a key player in negotiating the support of independent members Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott and then found that managing legislation through the House was not just a headkicker’s role but one requiring considerable diplomacy.

In 2011, Albanese introduced two more policy reforms. The first on urban planning drew on the work of Danish designer Jan Gehl and set out plans for urban design with better transport links and safety. The second on shipping was notable for gaining the approval of both the conservative Australian Shipowners Associations and the radical Maritime Union of Australia. However, he also attracted controversy when a convoy of trucks from North Queensland dubbed the “convoy of no confidence” descended on Canberra’s Parliament House to protest against rising fuel costs and carbon pricing. During Question Time, Albanese labelled the protesters outside as “the convoy of no consequence”. This caused outrage among supporters of the protest and a week later a public rally in support of the truckies was held outside Albanese’s electorate office in Marrickville.

Following a series of poor polls, leadership instability descended on the Labor government. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd resigned as foreign minister in February 2012 to challenge prime minister Julia Gillard. Shortly before the ballot Anthony Albanese came out in support of Rudd stating he had always been unhappy with the manner of Rudd’s removal. He tearfully explained how he had offered his resignation as Leader of the House to the prime minister but she had refused to accept it. In response to a question on his personal feelings around the leadership spill, he stated “I like fighting Tories. That’s what I do.”

The destabilisation continued and a year later in March 2013, a number of Ministers were sacked or forced to resign after an abortive coup. One of these was Simon Crean and Albanese added Crean’s responsibilities as Minister for Regional Development and Local Government to his portfolio. Three months later on 26 June 2013, Kevin Rudd defeated Julia Gillard in another Labor Party leadership vote. The same ballot saw Albanese elected by caucus as Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party and ultimately he was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister. In the ministerial reshuffle that followed, Albanese retained his role as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Leader of the House, lost the recently acquired Regional Development and Local Government portfolio, and gained the important Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy portfolio.

Albanese has been described as “Labor’s Parliamentary go-to man, a bloke with willingness and enthusiasm for fronting up – whether at the Dispatch Box, to protesters or even in backing a losing leadership candidate”.

Return to opposition in 2013

Following the defeat of the second Rudd government at the 2013 federal election, Albanese announced his candidacy as the Leader of the Labor Party in a contest with Bill Shorten. Shorten was announced as the winner in a contest that involved a combined vote of caucus and rank-and-file members.

Personal life

Albanese is married to Carmel Tebbutt, former Deputy Premier of New South Wales and former member for the state electoral district of Marrickville, which until its abolition in 2015 overlapped with Grayndler in Sydney’s inner west. They have one son. Albanese describes himself as “half-Italian and half-Irish” and a “non-practicising Catholic”. He is also a music fan who reportedly once went to a Pogues gig in a Pixies shirt and intervened as Transport Minister to save a Dolly Parton tour from bureaucratic red tape. In 2013, he co-hosted a pre-election special of music program Rage and his song selection included the Pixies and Pogues along with the The Smiths, The Triffids, PJ Harvey, Hunters and Collectors and Joy Division.

As a lifelong supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, he was a board member of the club from 1999 to 2002 and influential in the fight to have the club readmitted to the National Rugby League competition. During October 2009 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Albanese had opposed an attempt to appoint the former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard to a senior position in the NRL. Albanese admitted he had phoned the NRL chief executive, David Gallop, as well as other league officials, to advise them against the idea. He then implored officials at Souths to help stop the suggestion from gaining momentum. In 2013, he was made a life member of Souths.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Albanese














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