Labor leader Anthony Albanese has declared himself “match fit” after his recent weight loss and style makeover, as he slapped back at a crack from the PM about his transformation.
Mr Albanese was quizzed about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s jibes about his 18-kilogram weight loss on a whirlwind trip to Brisbane on Wednesday.
“I think I’m somewhat surprised that he thinks that that is legitimate criticism,” he said.
“I make no apologies, and indeed, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve got myself match fit … because this is a tough job that I’m running for.”
It followed Mr Morrison’s attempt to turn Mr Albanese’s makeover into a campaign issue, alleging the Labor leader doesn’t know who he is.
“I’m not pretending to be anyone else. I’m still wearing the same sunglasses. Sadly, the same suits. I weigh about the same size and I don’t mind a bit of Italian cuisine … I’m not pretending to be anyone else,” the PM told a crowd in NSW at a forum for a special edition of Sky News Australia’s Paul Murray Live on Monday night.
On Wednesday, Mr Albanese said he was fitter than he had been in some time – and pleased about it.
“I think that’s something I’m proud of and if the Prime Minister thinks that’s a reason to be critical of me, well, that’s a matter for his judgment,” he said.
“I had a car accident in January last year. When a Range Rover is heading for a head-on collision with you, I assure you, it’s a life-changing experience, and it was.”
Mr Albanese also urged other Australians over 50 to “lead a healthy life”.
“I still enjoy a beer. I still enjoy a range of food but I’m careful about my diet and I squeeze in exercise whenever I can and I think that’s a good thing and it’s up to the Prime Minister to explain, really, why he thinks that’s a bad thing,” he said.
Mr Albanese also denied a cultural problem within the federal ALP, after some senior MPs were accused of ostracising the late senator Kimberley Kitching.
Mr Albanese said Senator Kitching’s sudden death last week was a tragedy that hurt all of Labor and it was important she was paid due respect ahead of her funeral on Monday.
He said it was disrespectful for senators Kristina Keneally, Penny Wong and Katy Gallagher – named by The Australian in a report on the alleged treatment of Senator Kitching – to be branded as “mean girls”.
“I find that extraordinarily disrespectful to describe strong, articulate, principled women,” he said.
Mr Albanese said senior male politicians would not be described in the same way.