Chris Bowen pulls out of Labor leadership battle after party's election defeat

| 23.05,19. 05:20 AM |

Chris Bowen pulls out of Labor leadership battle after party's election defeat

Photo: Joel Fitzgibbon, right, has flirted with a run for Labor leader. Anthony Albanese, left, is the

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has abandoned his bid to lead Labor just a day after announcing his candidacy.

His decision leaves Anthony Albanese as the only confirmed candidate for the Opposition's top job.

The ALP national executive met on Wednesday evening to determine the process to replace outgoing leader Bill Shorten following Labor's shock election loss at the weekend.

"I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot," Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen is a member of Labor's right faction, while Mr Albanese sits in the left.

Queensland Labor right MP Jim Chalmers, the Opposition finance spokesman, said on Monday he was considering nominating for the leadership.

He confirmed, just seconds after Mr Bowen's press conference ended, he would announce his decision on Thursday.

"I'm being encouraged to nominate for leader and I'll now consider my options overnight," Mr Chalmers tweeted.

After Mr Bowen announced his candidacy a string of high-profile Labor politicians from both the left and right factions offered Mr Albanese their support.

They included Penny Wong, Tony Burke, Kristina Keneally, Catherine King and Terri Butler.

As Mr Bowen announced his candidacy on Tuesday, rank and file members of the NSW right were expressing their disbelief at his run for the top job.

"Over the last 48 hours I've been on the phone to colleagues. I've been very pleased with the response," Mr Bowen said on Wednesday.

"It's clear to me that I would have majority support in the actual caucus ballot.

"Not a big majority, but majority support with some support from the left faction as well as support from the right faction, and people that aren't in any faction.

"But it's also clear to me, I'm a realist, that Albo would win the rank and file for good reason. He's a popular character. By a good margin."

Mr Albanese offered a different view when he fronted the media, insisting he had the support of the majority of the caucus.

He said he was confident if would win the leadership even if another candidate decided to run against him.

"I've been ringing around caucus members and I've also had discussion with party members [and] I'm very honoured by the amount of support I've received," Mr Albanese said.

"I believe that a majority of the caucus have already committed to support my leadership if it goes forward in a contested position," he said.

The Labor leadership process allows rank-and-file members to have a say on who should lead the party.

The federal partyroom also casts a vote, and the two results are combined to determine who wins.

Labor's national executive will meet tonight to determine the leadership process.

Mr Bowen said it was important he announced his plans not to run to allow for other candidates to consider putting their hand up before nominations closed.

Mr Albanese announced on Sunday he would seek the leadership.

It is a role he sought back in 2013 but lost to Bill Shorten.

Mr Albanese won the membership vote but Mr Shorten won enough caucus support for him to take over the party.

Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, who flirted with running for the leadership, has now ruled that out.

"I've had a long discussion with Albo about my demands that the party strengthens its focus on regional Australia, provides it with a meaningful seat at the party's decision-making table, and engages more on the issues which matter most to working people living in our great regions," he said in a statement.

"I am satisfied that a Labor Party led by Anthony Albanese will provide that focus and he'll listen closely to the needs and aspirations of our country people.

"As a consequence, I will not be a part of the leadership contest."

Mr Bowen, 46, served as treasurer when Kevin Rudd briefly returned to the prime ministership in 2013.

He remained in the treasury portfolio when Mr Shorten took over the party in Opposition.

Mr Bowen was the architect of the contentious tax plans Labor took to the weekend's election.

On Tuesday he defended the franking credits policy, arguing it would allow governments to spend more on health and education.


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