Penny Wong backs Anthony Albanese in Labor leadership race but ALP heavyweights say SHE should run

‘I’ve been begging her to run’: Penny Wong backs Anthony Albanese’s Labor leadership bid – but ALP heavyweights say SHE is actually the best candidate

  • Penny Wong has backed Anthony Albanese in the Labor leadership race
  • But a former party heavyweight says she is actually the best choice for the job 
  • Ms Wong is one of the party’s most recognisable faces since time in Rudd govt
  • Would be first Asian-Australian; lesbian leader of a major political party 
  • Battlelines are being drawn between Mr Albanese and Chris Bowen 

Penny Wong has today ruled herself out of the Labor leadership race, saying Anthony Albanese is ‘the best person’ for the job.  

But political heavyweights say the South Australian senator, 50, is wrong – and the best pick is actually her. 

‘I’ve never wanted that job (the leadership) and I’m supporting Anthony Albanese,’ she said on Wednesday.   

But Sam Dastyari, the former Labor senator and NSW party general secretary, said: ‘Penny is the leader Labor wants and the Labor party needs’. 

Former NSW Labor senator Sam Dastyari said Penny Wong is the ‘leader the Labor party wants and the Labor party needs’

At the weekend Mr Dastyari said he wanted to ‘draft Penny’ for the role and doubled down in an interview with Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday. 

‘I have been non stop begging Penny to run,’ he said. ‘I think I’m a day away from having her block my number.’

Mr Dastyari said she would win both the Caucus vote and the party membership vote if she put her hand up.  

She would be the first Asian-Australian and gay party leader. ‘You would not have a sharper contrast with Scott Morrison,’ Mr Dastyari said.   

While it is convention for the prime minister to be a member of the House of Representatives, but Mr Dastyari said officials could find her a safe South Australian seat, and she could swap with the House MP. 

Anthony Albanese

Chris Bowen

Contenders: Anthony Albanese (left) and Chris Bowen (right) are in the running

His call has been echoed on social media, with veteran broadcaster Phillip Adams tweeting she would be the candidate feared most by the Coalition. 

 I’ve never wanted that job (the leadership) and I’m supporting Anthony Albanese

Penny Wong on Wednesday 

‘Simple question. Of all the possible replacements for Shorten which one would the LNP most fear,’ he tweeted. ‘Simple answer. Penny Wong’.  

There was a stream of supportive tweets, with some punters saying it would show a great contrast with Scott Morrison and as an ‘inspirational’ leader. 

Ms Wong was the first Asian-Australian to serve in Cabinet and is one of Labor’s best known faces. 

'I have been non stop begging Penny to run,' said Sam Dastyari

‘I have been non stop begging Penny to run,’ said Sam Dastyari

Speaking in Adelaide, four days after Labor’s catastrophic defeat, Ms Wong was adamant in her support of Mr Albanese, from the party’s Left faction. 

Ms Wong said she would rather be Labor’s leader in the Senate again. 

‘I want to be Labor Senate leader again. 

‘It’s a position I’ve held for many years now and I think I’ve demonstrated my willingness to take up the fight on issues that matter to the Australian people as well as to hold the government of the day to account.’ 

Outgoing leader Bill Shorten is reported to have hit the phones in favour of challenger Chris Bowen, from the party’s Right.