Departing Labor leader Bill Shorten is reportedly trying to prevent Anthony Albanese from becoming the next party leader in a move labelled by other MPs as ‘weird’.
Mr Albanese, representing the Labor left-wing faction, has been campaigning for the leadership since confirming he'd make a second tilt at the position on Sunday.
His last attempt in 2013 ended in a loss to Shorten, who resigned from the leadership after Saturday's election loss.
Shorten immediately threw his support behind deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, but she ruled herself out on Monday, saying it was not her time.
"He was initially ringing people around the country urging them to vote for Tanya. He has also been actively lobbying people making sure someone runs against Albo," one senior MP told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"It's weird. As a former leader you have an opportunity to be above it. You get treated with a whole respect for making that choice."
Frontbenchers back Albanese
Labor frontbencher Penny Wong looks set to endorse Albanese as the "best person" to become the party's next national leader.
The South Australian senator will make the announcement on Wednesday, a day after shadow treasurer and NSW right faction member Chris Bowen launched his bid for the role.
Senator Wong "genuinely believes he (Albanese) is the best person to take them to government in the next election", the Adelaide Advertiser reported.
Frontbencher Tony Burke is also believed to be backing Mr Albanese over Mr Bowen.
Mr Bowen, the shadow treasurer says he has support from both the left and right of the party after speaking to most of his colleagues.
"I think it's fair to say I would have majority support in a Labor caucus," he told ABC News Breakfast.
Mr Bowen could face internal headwinds as the architect of Labor's plans to change the franking credits regime and crack down on negative gearing.
The Coalition branded these "new taxes" that would hurt retirees and mum and dad property investors, and the policies were key factors in Labor losing the election.
Calls for ‘generational change’ in the Labor party
Mr Bowen was under fire from the Coalition during the campaign for saying Australians didn't have to vote for Labor's policies if they didn't like them, a sentiment he admits he could have worded better.
He says he will start with a blank policy slate if he becomes leader.
Mr Albanese and Mr Bowen are the only declared contenders to replace Mr Shorten, but it's not too late for others to put up their hand.
"We got the votes of one-in-three of every Australian on Saturday. We need to do much better," Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.
It is understood Labor's finance spokesman Jim Chalmers is being encouraged to run, but his thinking has been impacted by factional colleague Mr Bowen's announcement.
Mr Bowen received a mix of positive and negative comments on his Facebook page on Tuesday, with many linking him with Labor's loss and calling for "generational change" in the party.
The leadership will be decided by a vote of grassroots members and the federal parliamentary caucus, with each group given 50 per cent weight.
Caucus will not be told the result of the grassroots vote before MPs make their decision.
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