Opposition Leader Albanese Expected to Do a Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle

By AAP
January 27, 2021 Updated: January 27, 2021

Anthony Albanese will overhaul Labor’s frontbench line-up as the party prepares for a looming election.

Mark Butler is expected to be bumped from the contentious climate change and energy portfolio in the shadow cabinet reshuffle.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon, who has been urging the party to tone down its climate policies, believes moving Butler is the right decision.

“It will send the right message to our traditional base,” Fitzgibbon told ABC radio.

“Mark has been somewhat over-enthusiastic in his approach to climate change policy. I believe we should see climate change as not a political opportunity but a policy opportunity.”

Butler is expected to swap positions with Chris Bowen, who holds the health portfolio.

“The job of every frontbencher is to serve in the portfolio allocated by their leader,” Butler told AAP on January 28.

“That’s always been my position under the four leaders I’ve had the privilege of serving under.”

There is speculation deputy leader Richard Marles could also move from the defence portfolio to a more frontline position.

Albanese is facing pressure within the Labor caucus to do more to make up political ground lost to the Liberal-National coalition since the coronavirus pandemic struck a year ago.

“What the next election will be about is who has a better plan for the future to deliver a stronger economy, a fairer society, and deal with challenges such as climate change,” he told the ABC on Wednesday night.

“I believe we’ll be very strongly positioned for it.”

Albanese said he hoped to use the reshuffle to highlight Labor’s priorities.

“It will achieve a stronger team going forward with the right people in the right jobs,” he said.

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten last week took what many interpreted as a thinly veiled swipe at his successor for adopting a “tiny” policy agenda in opposition.

Launching a collection of essays by members of the Labor Right faction, Shorten argued the party must “stand for something” if it wanted to win.

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon, who quit the front bench in November, has spent months arguing the party is drifting too far to the left and losing touch with its traditional base.

He says more Labor members and supporters need to speak out about the party’s direction.

Albanese insists his leadership is secure.

Asked whether he lacked a desire to become prime minister, he insisted his ambition was for Labor to be in government.

“My ambition has never been about myself – it’s about what Labor governments can achieve for the sort of people that I grew up with,” he said, having been raised by a single mum in public housing,” Albanese said.

Daniel McCulloch, Paul Osborne in Canberra