5 things you need to know about Anthony Albanese, the unlikely sex symbol turned federal Labor leader

Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
  • Anthony Albanese has been elected leader of the Australian Labor Party in the federal parliament.
  • The MP for Grayndler is a former deputy prime minister, economist and has a cult following under alter-ego “hot Albo” on social media.
  • He also inspired the ‘Albo Corn Ale’ produced by Sydney microbrewery Willie the Boatman.

After a week of frenzied speculation that saw a number of Labor frontbenchers named as potential party leaders, in the end Bill Shorten’s successor was elected unopposed.

Anthony Albanese was announced on Monday as the federal Labor Party’s new leader and Australia’s official Opposition Leader.

Here’s what you need to know about the alternative prime minister.

He’s the Member for Grayndler, one of the safest Labor seats in Australia

At the federal election last week, Albanese was one of the few Labor MPs who was the recipient of a positive trajectory, with the New South Wales electorate of Grayndler experiencing a 5.4% swing to Labor on first preferences.

The ABC’s election guru Antony Green describes the Sydney inner-west seat as “very safe” for Labor. In fact, the party has held the electorate ever since it was introduced in 1949 and it’s even named after former union boss Ted Grayndler, who was general secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union in the 1920s and ’30s. The ABC’s Vote Compass tool lists Grayndler as the third most left-leaning seat in Australia.

Albanese was first elected as MP for Grayndler during the 1996 election in a moment, according to Green, that would have been bittersweet for the then-33-year-old. The night saw a Liberal Party victory for John Howard that consigned the Labor Party to Opposition for more than a decade.

He is an economist by trade and used to work for the Commonwealth Bank

Despite being a member of Labor’s Left faction and a self-described advocate of the “working class”, Albanese is actually a former economist and banker. After studying economics at the University of Sydney he spent two years at the Commonwealth Bank — an organisation he would become an outspoken critic of regarding branch closures and the royal commission in later political life.

At a press conference following his election as party leader on Monday, Albanese said this past work experience gives him a centrist edge over some other senior Labor figures and will allow him to reach out to voters who “felt like they couldn’t” vote for Labor on economic grounds.

“I’m an economist by training,” he said. “At university I studied the full spectrum of economic [ideas].”

But Albanese’s Labor credentials stack up as well. After his two-year stint at CBA, he worked as an adviser to Whitlam- and Hawke-era minister Tom Uren, a Labor Party official and an adviser to NSW Premier Bob Carr before being elected to federal parliament.

He is a bachelor and has a cult following under the alter-ego “hot Albo”

Albanese split from his wife of 30 years, fellow Labor politician and former NSW deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt, in January of this year. The Australian newspaper’s Margin Call column suggests that, were he to win a hypothetical election today, Albanese would be the first single prime minister since the short-lived reign of John McEwen in 1967.

Some Australians will have been pleased to hear the news of Albanese’s newfound bachelorhood. In 2013, images of the Labor leader as a university student surfaced on social media under the hashtag #hotalbo, leading to an unlikely status as a sex symbol in niche corners of the #auspol-following Twittersphere. The hashtag made a resurgence in May 2019 as the MP was touted as a potential successor to Bill Shorten.

He was deputy prime minister during the Rudd government 2.0

On 26 June 2013, ousted Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got his revenge, successfully winning a leadership ballot against Julia Gillard, the prime minister who toppled Rudd just three years earlier. The next day Rudd appointed Albanese as his deputy, a position he held until Labor lost government in September of that year at a federal election.

In his long career, Albanese has also held senior roles including minister for infrastructure and transport, minister for regional development and local government and minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy, as well as a bunch of shadow ministry portfolios when in Opposition.

He has a beer named after him

Turns out Bob Hawke is not the only Labor legend to have an alcoholic beverage named in his honour. Willie the Boatman, a trendy microbrewery in Marrickville in the heart of Albanese’s electorate, produces the Albo Corn Ale. A statement on the brewery’s website makes clear the beverage is a tribute to the Labor leader.

“He’s the last of a rare breed of pollie and an all round good bloke,” said Willie the Boatman. “Anthony Albanese MP has earnt his sea legs — and a hardworking beer named just for him. Cheers, Albo.”

The parliamentary Labor caucus and party rank-and-file seemingly agree.

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