Labor leader candidate Chris Bowen has pulled out of the race for Labor leadership just hours after an explosive interview with Sunrise’s David Koch.
The shadow treasurer addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon in Sydney and his withdrawal clears the path for Anthony Albanese to be elected uncontested.
Mr Bowen, who only declared his hand on Tuesday, said he had the support of the majority of the Labor caucus but conceded Mr Albanese would prove a more popular personality.
“I'm a realist,... Albo would win the rank and file for good reason,” Mr Bowen told reporters.
“He's a popular character. By a good margin."
“I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot. I'm very grateful to the caucus colleagues who have been supportive of me and I've very pleased that I would have been able, in my view, to command the majority of the caucus.”
Unless another contender emerges, Mr Albanese will avoid a leadership ballot, with Queenslander Jim Chalmers potentially taking the deputy leadership.
Mr Bowen is understood to lack crucial support from parts of the Victorian Right and the CFMEU, which supported Bill Shorten’s leadership, The Australian reported.
NSW Labor Right figures Senator Keneally and Tony Burke both declared Mr Albanese as their preferred leader, despite being in Chris Bowen’s faction.
“In light of the election outcome, we need to reframe our policies and we need to listen to our members and supporters,” Ms Keneally tweeted.
“We must reconnect with working people who did not vote for us. It’s my view that Anthony Albanese is best placed to do that.”
Kochie rips into Mr Bowen
Appearing on Channel 7’s morning show on Wednesday, Chris Bowen was forced to defend his role in the collapse of the Labor party at Saturday’s federal election.
Holding his hands up when Kochie suggested Labor had lost the “unlosable election”, Mr Bowen said he took “full responsibility.”
“I claim full responsibility for all the policies I was involved in, for what we got right and for what people may say we got wrong,” Mr Bowen said.
Kochie, who suggested Mr Bowen’s reputation had been “tarnished” in the wake of the Coalition’s victory, continued to pick apart his party’s failure to win over voters with tax reforms.
“Tax reform has never won anyone an election. History says it is the kiss of death. You went in with a massive tax reform agenda, not that we don’t need it,” Kochie continued.
“Franking credit reforms, you frightened the pants off so many retirees and families.
“How can you then put your hand up to be leader?”
Mr Bowen turned his defence to integrity, suggesting he’d never be part of a political party “that was dishonest with the Australian people.”
He suggested the Liberal party had “lied about a lot” of their election promises and had been caught out lying again days after the election.
“Honest losers never get into power,” Kochie quipped, returning the attention to the Labor party and in particular Mr Bowen and his comments in the run up to the election.
“A lot of people didn’t like your comment during the campaign where you said ‘don’t vote for us if you don’t like our policies’ — well, they took your advice,” Kochie pointed out.
Mr Bowen ultimately admitted he could have worded the sentence better.
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