Anthony Albanese said he reflected modern Australia after being asked for his thoughts on potentially being the first Australian PM with an Italian name.
The Opposition leader appeared in Gladstone to visit an oil refinery where he announced Labor’s plans to construct an Australian battery manufacturing industry.
A reporter referred to ex-PM Paul Keating’s 1996 comment that: ‘When you change the government, you change the country’.
‘You will be the first Italian Australian to win and Ed Husic will be the first Muslim Australian in the cabinet. Have you thought about how that will change the country?’
Mr Albanese replied that he was ‘heartened’ by his support from Australians with foreign heritage.
Anthony Albanese claimed Scott Morrison has an ‘allergy to the ABC’ while speaking in Gladstone on Thursday (pictured)
‘Members of the Italian community are saying to me that they are going to vote Labor for the first time in their life because they want an Australia that reflects modern Australia,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘I have a non-Anglo-Celtic name, and so does our Senate leader as well. I think it send a message out there hopefully to multicultural Australia that you can achieve anything in this country.’
He also pointed out he the raft of popular Premiers with foreign names including Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland, ex-Premier Gladys Berejiklian of NSW and Steve Bracks of Victoria who is of Lebanese descent.
‘A fellow called Peter Malinauskas just got elected in South Australia.’
‘I think it’s a very positive thing.’
Mr Albanese was born and raised in Sydney by his single mother Maryanne Ellery in public housing.
She had told him his father had died in a car crash after they had met overseas and wed, but when he was 15-years old she revealed a different story.
‘We sat down just after dinner one night and she, it was very traumatic for her, I think, to tell me that in fact that wasn’t the case, that my father might still be alive,’ he previously told 7.30.
‘She’d met him overseas, fallen pregnant with me, had told him and he had said, basically, that he was betrothed to someone from the town in Italy where he was from,’ he said.
Maryanne had adopted his father’s name, worn engagement and wedding rings, and Mr Albanese believed it was because of the guilt she felt as a Catholic woman with a child out of marriage in the 1960s.
Several decades later after having his own son, he made the decision to track his father down with the help of Carnival Cruises boss Ann Sherry – whose company had bought the cruise business through which the pair met.
A photo from the ship the Fairsky, aboard which Anthony Albanese’s parents Carlo Albanese (top left) and Maryanne Ellery (bottom right) met during a trip between Sydney and London
He eventually met his father in the Italian town of Barletta and discovered he had a half brother and sister.
‘The bell rung … and the door opened, he walked in and opened his arms to me and we embraced.’
He has since returned to Italy on several occasions to meet his extended Italian family.
Mr Albanese’s father Carlo died in 2014.
The Opposition leader was in Gladstone as Labor tries to win the seat of Flynn held by a margin of more than 7 per cent by the Coalition.
While fronting press there, he also slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison for shunning the ABC during the election campaign.
Mr Morrison was subjected to a tough grilling by 7.30’s Leigh Sales in early April – days out from calling the election – but has since largely steered clear of the national broadcaster.
‘I cannot believe that the national Prime Minister will be the first one during a campaign who has not appeared on any ABC programs,’ Mr Albanese said.
The ABC had been set on securing one of the three leader’s debates but they went to Channel 9, Sky News and Channel 7 (pictured: Wednesday night’s debate)
‘It is like I has an allergy to the ABC. No debate on the ABC, no appearance on Q&A, no appearance on RN Breakfast, no appearance on ABC Breakfast, no interviews on Insiders, on the major programs, and no appearance yet at the National Press Club.’ he said.
Scott Morrison has popped up on the ABC but his appearances have been very rare.
On Monday, ABC radio host Virginia Trioli erupted at the PM for failing to appear on her Melbourne show after struggling to interview him for three years.
But moments later he appeared with ABC radio host Sabra Lane for a somewhat relaxed 10-minute interview on her AM program.
Candidates have traditionally appeared on the ABC’s 7.30 for an interview during the campaign but this has not happened.
The network has been criticised for its left-leaning stance, with outspoken political commentator Andrew Bolt recently hitting out at the program for airing an ‘eight-minute smear’ against Mr Morrison over an ‘unbalanced’ segment which detailed his governments failings since 2019.
‘People who watch 7.30 aren’t swing voters, they’re rusted on,’ one senior government official was quoted as saying earlier this year.
And while the ABC was set on securing at least one leader’s debate, they went to Channel 9, Channel 7 and the conservative Sky News Australia.