Federal election: Who is Labor's little-known deputy Richard Marles?

With the next federal election all but certain to be called for April or May, Yahoo News Australia has answered the most popular questions people are Googling about deputy Opposition leader Richard Marles.

How old is Richard Marles?

Richard Marles was born on July 13, 1967, making him 54 years old.

What is Richard Marles’ family background?

Mr Marles was born in Geelong, Victoria.

He is the son of Donald Marles, a former headmaster of Trinity Grammar School, and Fay Marles (née Pearce), Victoria's first Equal Opportunity Commissioner and Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

Richard Marles has quietly risen to the top of Labor's federal ranks. Source: AAP
Richard Marles has quietly risen to the top of Labor's federal ranks. Source: AAP

Where did Richard Marles grow up?

Mr Marles went to Geelong Grammar School and following his school education attended the University of Melbourne, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws with Honours.

He was the General Secretary of the National Union of Students and a member of the Melbourne University Labor Club during his studies.

Who is Richard Marles’ wife?

Mr Marles is married to personal injury lawyer Rachel Schutze.

He has three children from his current marriage and one from his first marriage to Lisa Neville, a current Victorian MP elected in 2002.

Where did Richard Marles work before entering politics?

Mr Marles was a practicing with Melbourne industrial law firm Slater and Gordon following completion of his studies

Like former Labor leader and long-time friend Bill Shorten, Mr Marles comes from a union background.

After starting out with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) as legal officer in 1994, Mr Marles was elected TWU National Assistant Secretary in 1998.

In 2000 he became assistant secretary for the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), where he remained until 2007.

When did Richard Marles enter politics?

After a successful preselection challenge to sitting Corio MP Gavan O'Connor, Mr Marles was elected to the seat at the 2007 federal election that returned Labor to government under Kevin Rudd.

What are Richard Marles’ previous political roles?

Mr Marles had a brief stint as chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs 2008-09 before being appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry.

He was re-elected to parliament in 2010 and was made Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs by prime minister Julia Gillard and added foreign affairs in 2012.

He resigned these positions in 2013 after he backed Kevin Rudd in leadership challenge speculation that never eventuated.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese gives a media conference with Richard Marles, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party.
Richard Marles continues to back his leader Anthony Albanese despite rumours of internal dissatisfaction with Albo leading up to the election. Source: Getty Images

With Labor going down in the 2013 election, new Leader Bill Shorten brought Mr Marles into the Shadow Ministry for Immigration and Border Protection.

A subsequent election defeat in 2016 saw Mr Marles move to the Shadow Defence Portfolio until the next Labor defeat in 2019 saw him chosen as new leader Anthony Albanese’s deputy.

A cabinet reshuffle in January 2021 put him in charge of shadow ministry responsibilities for the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are some of the scandals Richard Marles has faced?

For a politician Mr Marles is relatively squeaky clean, although he was named in allegations of branch-stacking of Victorian labor during an anti-corruption inquiry in October 2021.

Victorian Labor MP Anthony Byrne admitted paying for people's party membership fees to boost support for his moderate faction during a number of fundraisers in 2016.

Other senior Labor figures distanced themselves from Mr Byrne but he escaped the scandal and remains an MP to this day.

Is Richard Marles a potential leader of the Labor party?

Richard Marles, one of the lesser known senior Labor figures, rose to the top of the leadership ranks with little fanfare.

On-and-off speculation regarding internal satisfaction with Mr Albanese’s leadership has put Mr Marles in the spotlight as a potential replacement, but he continues to back his leader, at least publicly.

Mr Marles was first highlighted as a potential leader following Joel Fitzgibbon quitting as Shadow Agriculture Minister in November 2020, citing concerns on climate policy and saying that the “labour” needed to be put back into Labor.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Richard Marles addresses a media conference.
Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles rose to the top of the Labor ranks with little fanfare or scandal. Source: Getty Images.

The Coalition smelled blood after Mr Fitzgibbon’s parting swipe, with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton saying Mr Marles was “up to his neck” in moves against Mr Albanese.

Mr Marles dismissed the claims at the time, saying ‘Albo’ was doing a “fantastic job” as party leader.

The instability of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government is also fresh in the minds of many and it remains to be seen whether Labor will stick with Mr Albanese as leader in the face of a potential fourth consecutive election defeat.

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