Albanese sacks key ally in ALP reshuffle

A new look Labor shadow cabinet will be unveiled by leader Anthony Albanese in Canberra on Thursday amid heavy speculation he will dump his energy and climate change spokesman.

Speaking at a primary school in Canberra on Thursday morning, Mr Albanese refused to answer any questions about his frontbench.

"I will be making an announcement at an appropriate time later today in Parliament House," he said.

"I'm not going to comment on speculation, what you'll have is a full announcement of our reshuffle."

Labor leader Anthony Albanese. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Labor leader Anthony Albanese. Picture: Gaye Gerard

Mr Albanese did give a strong indication reports Mark Butler would be shifted from the contentious energy and climate portfolio in favour of current health spokesman Chris Bowen, were correct.

"I regard (energy and climate change) as an economic portfolio and therefore someone who has been the treasurer of Australia is eminently qualified," he said.

Mr Bowen was Treasurer in 2013.

The move is an attempt from Mr Albanese to claw back support among coal mining regions in to revitalise the party ahead of the next federal election.

But former frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has warned that change alone was not enough to reassure the party's rapidly disappearing blue collar base.

Labor’s Climate Change and Energy spokesman Mark Butler. Picture: AAP /David Mariuz
Labor’s Climate Change and Energy spokesman Mark Butler. Picture: AAP /David Mariuz

A senior figure in Labor's Left faction, Mr Butler has held the critical portfolio since 2013, but his approach has sparked bitter internal divisions.

He has worked closely with Mr Albanese for many years, serving as his campaign manager in the 2013 election for the Labor leadership.

Former agriculture and resources spokesman Mr Fitzgibbon, a critic of Mr Butler, told The Telegraph that dumping him was a "good start".

"It should send the right signal to our traditional base, but a change in jockey will not be enough alone," he said.

"We need to recalibrate our policies and use language that reassures the workers were born to represent that we appreciate what they do and that we have their backs."

 

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten. Picture: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Last year The Daily Telegraph revealed Mr Fitzgibbon was at risk of losing his Hunter seat as the coal mining region turned on the Labor Party.

Earlier this week former Labor leader Bill Shorten took a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Albanese, warning the party against a "tiny" policy agenda.

Speaking at the launch of The Write Stuff, a collection of essays by members of Labor's Right faction, Mr Shorten said the party must be "an opposition that stands for something".

"We must be a party of Labor that stands for the real-world concerns of working men and women," he said.

But Mr Albanese has played down leadership speculation, and on Wednesday night talked up Labor's election chances.

"When you look at the position we're in going into what may well be an election year at the end of the year, in terms of all the polling, we're very competitive," he told the ABC's 7.30.

Sources said Mr Albanese was planning a larger reshuffle, fuelling speculation deputy leader Richard Marles and senate leader Penny Wong will be directed away from defence and foreign affairs respectively, to more domestic-focused portfolios.

Originally published as Albanese sacks key ally in ALP reshuffle


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