Five Labor leadership hopefuls circle Albanese
An imminent major reshuffle of Labor's frontbench is expected to dull the appetite for a change in leader, but Anthony Albanese will still need to appease his detractors long term.
A spike in media activity by Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek, who has long been considered an alternative leader, has caught the attention of her colleagues in the Labor caucus, with one member telling The Daily Telegraph it was clear she was "on the offensive".
However the source cautioned the likelihood of a serious bid for leadership at this time, particularly if the reshuffle was able to combat the concerns of the party's right factions in NSW and Victoria respectively.
Another Labor source said the concern with Mr Albanese was not as deeply tied to his personality, as much as "general concern" with the party's current electoral chances.
"If the reshuffle is able to reinvigorate the frontbench … get some new energy into portfolios that have been held by the same person for many years … that will calm things," they said.
Current health spokesman Chris Bowen has also been tapped as a more likely option for leader.
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.
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 Mr 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. Other potential options include deputy leader Richard Marles, and treasurer spokesman Jim Chalmers.
It is widely believed former leader Bill Shorten would not contest the position before the next federal election, despite his recent warning Labor should not pursue a "tiny" policy agenda, which was interpreted as a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Albanese.
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.
Ms Plibersek deputy leader of the Labor Party from 2013 until the election loss in 2019, and was previously a cabinet minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments.
She is currently Labor's spokeswoman for Education and Training.
Ms Plibersek, who this month started appearing for a weekly talkback segment on 2GB radio, has gone further outlining her vision for Australia in a stirring opinion piece for The Australian.
In the article, Ms Plibersek cited post-war time prime minister Ben Chifley as an inspiration for how to "win the peace".
"The year 2020 showed us it's possible to achieve amazing things in difficult times," she said.
"Just as Chilfey promised full employment and a family home, today's leaders should aim higher as we rebuild after the pandemic: full employment, decent wages, job security, dignity in retirement, a strong safety net; a better quality of life for all Australians.
Ms Plibersek said Australians deserved to be "confident" about their future.
"When people are confident, they spend and create jobs for other Australians," she said.
"After sacrificing so much during the pandemic, Australians deserve better.
"Australians should be confident that if they work hard and do the right thing they can afford to live a good life; that their kids will have an easier path than they did."
Ms Plibersek said Australia should expand "cheaper, cleaner" renewable energy to reduce power bills, boost manufacturing jobs and reduce pollution.
Originally published as Five Labor leadership hopefuls circle Albanese