Albanese under pressure to promote more women, as Marles looks set to be deputy


Emily’s List, an organisation that supports progressive Labor women in politics, said Labor’s all-male prospective leadership team was “untenable”.

Richard Marles appears to be the only nominee for deputy leader of the Labor Party. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“It’s disrespectful to the thousands of women who helped campaign across seats for both male and female candidates. And it’s disrespectful to the significant numbers of talented women in the federal parliamentary caucus,” Emily’s List national co-convenor Tanja Kovac said.

“There must be 50 per cent women in the shadow cabinet.”

Under Labor’s affirmative action rules, at least 40 per cent of the frontbench must be female, although there is some uncertainty around how this is applied. Bill Shorten’s final cabinet was one third women, with seven positions out of 21.

Nominations for the Labor leadership close on Monday at 10am. Mr Albanese, who is from the NSW left, is expected to be the only nominee, which would make him leader elect from Monday morning. His position is due to be made official at a meeting of Labor MPs in Canberra on Thursday. The meeting would also confirm Mr Marles’ appointment as well as Labor’s Senate leadership.

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Penny Wong is expected to be re-appointed Senate leader. But there is a push to make NSW senator Kristina Keneally deputy Senate leader, replacing South Australian factional heavyweight, Don Farrell.

With key leadership positions almost settled, Labor MPs will begin lobbying to work out frontbench positions. The right and left factions each have a quota and vote for 30 shadow ministerial jobs between them. There are also more junior, assistant ministerial roles.

It will then be up to Mr Albanese as leader to determine a cabinet of about 20 positions. Mr Marles as deputy leader will be able to chose his own portfolio. Before the election he was defence spokesperson, and also has a keen interest in the Pacific region and foreign affairs.

While Victorian left powerbroker Kim Carr has announced he will not seek at ministerial spot, other MPs, such as Senator Keneally, are in the hunt for promotion. It is not yet clear whether Mr Shorten wants or will be given a ministerial role.

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Ms O’Neil had been canvassing support amongst colleagues for the party’s deputy leadership in recent days, but on Sunday, told the ABC’s Insiders that she did not have enough support. “I’m not going to run,” she said.

Ms O’Neil, who was first elected to Parliament in 2013, said the feedback she’d had from other MPs was that Mr Marles would be better at uniting Labor behind Mr Albanese. Mr Marles, has been in Parliament since 2007. He was briefly minister for trade when Kevin Rudd returned to the prime ministership in 2013.

“I think the view that I’ve reached from colleagues is that I’d be probably OK at the kind of front-facing aspect of the deputy leadership role but that there is a lot to being deputy leader of the Labor Party that is internal, about bringing the party together behind the leader. Richard Marles has got the skills and the qualities and the experience at this stage to be able to do that job really well,” Ms O’Neil said.

Ms O’Neil said Mr Marles had “behaved impeccably towards me throughout the entire process”.

“He is a very good human being, smart and he will be brilliant as deputy leader of our party.”

Judith Ireland is a political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House

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