Bill Shorten has been elected leader of the ALP after a month-long battle for the top job with Anthony Albanese.
Mr Shorten won with 52.02 per cent of the vote: 63.95 per cent from the Caucus and 40.08 per cent from the rank-and-file membership, who got a say in a leadership ballot for the first time.
The result was announced to the Caucus at a special meeting in Parliament House this afternoon.
Labor’s Parliamentary returning officer Chris Hayes confirmed that Mr Shorten had attracted the majority of the Caucus vote, gaining 55 votes to Mr Albanese’s 31.
Chris Bowen, who held the interim Labor leadership, says the Australian public had a unique opportunity to become familiar with both candidates via the election process.
“A new leader of the opposition traditionally as a hard task to introduce themselves to the Australian people because a government inevitably has a honeymoon and it’s very hard for a leader of the opposition, newly minted, to get the attention of [the media] and the Australian people,” he said.
“Bill comes to this now having been introduced to the Australian people through this process, and the Australian people have had the chance, whether they’re Labor members or not, to watch the debates and to see the new alternative PM in action.
“So he starts with an advantage that some of his predecessors have not due to the process that the Labor.”
Congratulations to Bill Shorten on becoming Labor leader. A great honour! I wish Bill all the best.JG
â Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard)
ALP members ‘responded with vigour’
Labor national president Jenny McAllister says Mr Shorten emerges from the “largest, most democratic process ever faced by any candidate for Labor’s Leadership.”
“We gave our members a say in the most important decision made by our political party and they’ve responded with vigour,” she said.
“There has been more than 30,000 votes cast. That’s 74 per cent of eligible voters, and we received more than 4,000 expressions of interest from new members.”
However, Coalition MP Jamie Briggs says that the Labor Party is still “split and divided” on who they want as their leader.
“I think it says it is the same old Labor Party,” he said.
“On one hand you had the party membership very clearly say – I think in a margin of 60 to 40 that they wanted Mr Albanese to be the leader, but yet the faceless men in the factions have decided that Mr Shorten will be the leader.”
Attaining the Labor leadership fulfils a long-held ambition for Mr Shorten.
Mr Shorten rose through the union ranks to become national secretary of the Australian Workers Union from 2001 to 2007.
His public profile was boosted during the 2006 Beaconsfield mine disaster, when two miners were trapped a kilometre underground for two weeks.
He entered Federal Parliament in 2007 and held a place in the outer ministry.
In Labor’s years in government, he was elevated to Assistant Treasurer before entering Cabinet as Minister for Workplace Relations and then Education Minister.
Mr Shorten will now lead the charge for Labor in opposition as it faces off against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The Coalition won 90 seats in this year’s federal election, leaving Labor to rebuild with just 55 seats.