The race to lead the Labor Party has settled on Anthony Albanese as frontrunner following the withdrawal of Chris Bowen, but there’s still another potential candidate in the race.
Queensland MP Jim Chalmers said he could still nominate for the leadership, forcing the Labor caucus and branch members into a vote. Mr Chalmers, who is from the right faction, has also been touted as a potential deputy for Mr Albanese, from the party’s left.
He is expected to announce his decision on whether he’ll run on Thursday.
A sports fan and father of three young children, Mr Chalmers has been the member for Rankin since 2013, representing southern Brisbane and his hometown of Logan City.
While the tense halls of Parliament House in Canberra might not seem an ideal setting for a love story, that’s where Mr Chalmers fell for wife Laura.
The pair met while she was Julia Gillard’s press secretary and he was former treasurer Wayne Swan’s chief adviser.
Ms Chalmers also worked as a press secretary for Senator Penny Wong.
Today, she is the news editor of The Sunday Mail and The Courier Mail.
Mr Chalmers also has an impressive resume – he has a PhD in political science and international relations, and a first class honours degree in public policy.
He served as shadow finance minister from 2016, but unlike Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, Mr Chalmers is less connected to some of Labor’s unpopular economic policies, particularly franking credits.
He confirmed he was “considering” a crack at Labor leadership during Monday night’s episode of Q&A, in which he admitted Labor needed to overhaul its major policies.
“I want to play a substantial role in the rebuilding of our electoral fortunes, a rebuilding of our policies up until the next election,” Mr Chalmers told the panel.
“The exact nature of that substantial role I think is to be determined.
“I’ve got a mountain of respect for other colleagues who are capable of leading our party, so I want to take the time to consult properly with people.”
One of the potential benefits of picking Mr Chalmers is that he represents Queensland, a state where Labor was thumped in the election.
I feel for Chris & I know it would’ve been hard for him to pull out. I’m being encouraged to nominate for leader & I’ll now consider my options overnight. @AustralianLabor needs to rebuild, refresh & renew & I want to play a prominent role in that. What role is to be determined.
— Jim Chalmers MP (@JEChalmers) May 22, 2019
If Mr Chalmers does decide to contest Labor leadership, he will have just 20 days to campaign and win the confidence of the party.
This will be a challenge, given that Mr Albanese is already a well-known Labor figure and won the membership vote against Bill Shorten in 2013.
What about Tanya Plibersek?
Despite previously flagging her interest in the role of Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek has ruled out contesting the current vacancy due to family responsibilities.
“I am very grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues, from party members and others, urging me to run for the Labor leadership,” Ms Plibersek said in a statement.
“But now is not my time.
“At this point, I cannot reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership.
“I know some people will be disappointed with this decision.
“I intend to continue as deputy leader until the leadership is determined.”