Anthony Albanese poised to announce shadow ministry shake-up


Dr Chalmers would replace NSW Right faction MP Chris Bowen, whose franking credits policy was blamed for big swings against Labor among older voters. Mr Bowen is expected to remain in shadow cabinet in a less central role.

The Right faction is reportedly pressuring Mr Albanese to create a new home affairs portfolio held by one of their MPs, to go head to head with Peter Dutton and fend off claims that Labor is weak on border protection. Labor currently divides the home affairs responsibilities of immigration, national security and citizenship between three MPs.

Labor’s Jim Chalmers is expected to become shadow treasurer.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Labor’s new deputy leader Richard Marles, a senior Victorian right-winger, is shaping as the front runner for the home affairs role if it is created. He most recently served as the party’s defence spokesman and has also held the immigration and border protection portfolio in opposition.

Mr Marles was said to be keen to take on foreign affairs, however, the Left faction’s Penny Wong is expected to remain in the portfolio.

Queensland Labor MPs have been pushing to keep immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann in shadow cabinet. Mr Neumann is the party’s only remaining regional Queensland MP and supporters say his voice in decision-making is critical.

However, senior Labor sources did not expect Mr Neumann to keep the immigration portfolio, and he is understood to have expressed interest in Northern Australia and agriculture, should those positions become vacant.

Long-serving health spokeswoman Catherine King is expected to switch portfolios.

Long-serving health spokeswoman Catherine King is expected to switch portfolios.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

A party source said long-serving health spokeswoman Catherine King, of the Victorian Left, had been offered another portfolio and was likely to accept it. Former leader Bill Shorten has expressed interest in taking the health portfolio, but sources doubted whether he would secure such a high-profile role. There has been speculation he will instead be appointed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme or industry portfolios.

Mr Albanese is believed to want the climate change and energy portfolio to remain with senior Left faction figure Mark Butler, should he wish to retain it.

However, Jason Clare, of the NSW Right, is not expected to keep the resources portfolio after Labor’s campaign messaging on both the Adani mine and the broader coal industry damaged the party in key regional seats.

A senior party source predicted that Labor Right veteran Joel Fitzgibbon, who holds the NSW coal seat of Hunter, would take on the resources role, despite a push by West Australian MPs to have one of their own appointed.

Mr Albanese insists Labor will not abandon its values but will listen to the concerns of Australians and review its policies in the wake of last month’s shock election loss.

The new shadow cabinet is expected to meet in Brisbane on Tuesday, before embarking on a national “listening tour”. The first sitting of the new Parliament is set down for July 2.

Nicole Hasham is environment and energy correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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