Shorten Stands as Labor Leader After Australia Election Loss

Bill Shorten, who played a key role in the demise of former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, said he’ll stand for the Labor leadership as the party seeks to rebuild following its loss in Australia’s election.

“I want to lead the rebuilding,” Shorten, 46, the outgoing education minister, told reporters in Melbourne. “I believe that Labor can win the battle of ideas and put our party back into serious contention for the next election.”

Labor lawmakers meet tomorrow to discuss who should lead the party after Rudd stepped down following the party’s defeat in the Sept. 7 election by Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition. If another candidate nominates, lawmakers and rank and file members of the party will hold a ballot to determine the leader.

Shorten, a former union official, supported Gillard when she ousted Rudd in a party coup three years ago. He switched allegiances in June, publicly backing Rudd minutes before a party vote that restored him to the leadership over Gillard.

“There’s a sense of irony in that the man whose factional games that helped engineer the downfall of two prime ministers is now trying to be the force that unites Labor,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a political analyst and lecturer in politics at Melbourne’s Monash University. “Labor party elders have long placed expectations on him that he will lead the party. Taking up the reins after a heavy election loss will be the great test of his leadership skills.”

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Shorten is married to the daughter of Australia’s Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who serves as Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in the nation.

He worked as a solicitor before joining the Australian Workers’ Union as an organizer in 1994. Shorten was national secretary from 2001 to 2007 and was elected to parliament in November of that year.

He represents the safe Labor seat of Maribyrnong in Victoria state, which he held with 61.5 percent of total votes, according to preliminary results on the Australian Electoral Commission’s website.

The party shouldn’t reject its positive legacy from its six years in power, which includes putting a price on carbon emissions, Shorten said today. Acting Labor leader Anthony Albanese is yet to announce whether he will vie for the leadership.

“We must learn the lessons of this defeat and take up the fight,” Shorten said. “To do this, Labor will need to reach out beyond its traditional constituencies. Labor will need to reignite the passion of our base.”

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