Anthony Albanese has avoided responding to fresh claims from Tanya Plibersek that she would have won the Labor Party leadership in 2019 had she stood for it.
It was revealed on Saturday that Ms Plibersek did not enter the race for party leadership after Bill Shorten stepped down following his 2019 election loss to Scott Morrison in part because she wanted to support her daughter who was a victim of abuse.
In an extract from Margaret Simons’ book Tanya Plibersek: On Her Own Terms, published in the Good Weekend magazine, the popular former Labor deputy leader says she is “pretty confident” she would have won the leadership contest against the now Prime Minister.
Mr Albanese dodged questions about this assertion later on Saturday, saying Ms Plibersek had been his friend for “a very long period of time” and was “doing a great job” as Environment Minister.
“I was elected unopposed after the 2019 election, and I won in 2022. And I’m very proud of the amazing team that I have,” he told reporters after Labor’s campaign launch for the by-election in the Melbourne electorate of Aston.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was in Melbourne to promote Labor’s candidate for Aston, Mary Doyle. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Ascui
Mr Albanese then launched into an attack on Peter Dutton, saying the Liberals had “reluctantly” appointed the Opposition Leader to his position “because they can’t find anyone better”.
“What we need is people who can unite the nation, bring people together in our common interest. That’s what my government’s focused on,” he said.
In the extract of Ms Simons’ book, Ms Plibersek said a large part of the reason she didn’t run for party leadership in 2019 was because her daughter Anna was dealing with the ramifications of an abusive relationship.
Ms Plibersek wanted to support her daughter, who also had to appear as a witness in a court case against her abuser, who was eventually convicted of assault for his abuse of her.
Asked about claims she didn’t run for leadership in 2019 because she didn’t have the numbers in the Labor caucus to win, Ms Plibersek said: “That’s absolutely what people who like to background against me would say”.
“We’ll never know. It’s history. But I am pretty confident that if I had run, I would have won,” Ms Plibersek said.
She added: “There seems to be this presumption among some that women can’t count.”
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has suggested she would have won a leadership contest against Mr Albanese in 2019. Picture: Dan Peled
Ms Plibersek posted a video on social media on Saturday morning to coincide with the Good Weekend article’s publication.
In it, she said she and her husband, Michael Coutts-Trotter, were “devastated” when they found out what had happened to their daughter, which unfortunately was all too common an experience in Australia.
Ms Plibersek urged other survivors to seek help, saying Anna had “chosen to share her story because it might help someone else. I’m so proud of her”.
“Anna is sharing her story today because since then she and some friends have set up a peer support volunteer-run organisation called The Survivor Hub, to try to help other people who are going through what they experienced,” she said.
“We know that this is a story that is so common in Australia. We know the statistics — about 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. And those statistics are just devastating.”
Lifeline 13 11 14
1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732
Read related topics:Anthony Albanese