Bill Shorten has been forced to speak out and insist he isn’t offended by Anthony Albanese’s recent speech detailing his Labor manifesto, amid claims of political tension between the former leadership rivals.
Albanese’s speech had a major focus on aspiration, growth and cooperation with business, and it was claimed he was rejecting Shorten’s stance on business ahead of the upcoming by-elections.
Instead, he called on Labor to follow the lead of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, to “collaborate with unions, the business sector and civil society to achieve positive outcomes in the national interest”.
Seeing the speech shortly after, Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne told reporters he believes it has triggered another fight for the top spot, and according to the Australian, added that Albanese “has fired the starter gun on the Labor Party leadership contest”.
However, asked if he had seen the speech beforehand, Shorten told reporters on Sunday that he had – and he had had an “amicable chat” with Albanese about it.
“There was nothing in that speech which caused me any offence at all,” he reportedly said. “I encourage my members of the united Labor team to put forward their views on the fair go.
“I want a fair go for everyone and I think that’s what was motivating Anthony’s talk as well.”
Shorten went on to shun rumours it was a distraction method ahead of the by-elections, and added: “Who here is surprised that the government is trying to bully Labor and bully me into voting for these tax cuts this week with some simplistic name calling about being anti-big business?”
It comes after a recent newspoll revealed Albanese is the preferred candidate to lead Labor. Responding to the news earlier this month, Karl Stefanovic took things one step further by telling the politician it is “his time” to take charge of the opposition.
The survey, published by The Australian, revealed that voters would rather see the Shadow Transport Minister at the helm of the opposition party, over current leader Shorten. Albanese bagged 26 per cent of the vote, compared to 23 per cent in favour of Shorten.
The findings also showed that Shorten is the least popular leader of the opposition of all time, after receiving negative rankings in 66 consecutive newspolls.