Australian Labor Party leadership spill, October 2013
The October 2013 Australian Labor Party spill was a leadership election held to select the next leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition. The spill resulted in Bill Shorten's election as Labor Leader. Tanya Plibersek was later confirmed as deputy leader.
Under new rules, the new leader was elected by public members of the Australian Labor Party over a period of twenty days, followed by a ballot of the Labor parliamentary party. Each of these two voting blocs was weighted equally in determining the winner.
After three years of instability in the Labor leadership in which four leadership spills were held between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, this contest featured neither. Gillard retired from parliament at the election, while Rudd announced on election night that he would step down as Labor leader and return to the backbench in his concession speech at the Gabba in Brisbane following Labor's defeat.
Earlier in the year the ALP caucus approved changes to the way the federal parliamentary leader is chosen. The new rules make it more difficult to change leaders and require a ballot of the party membership on contested leadership spills. The new rules encourage the parliamentary party to only nominate one candidate, to avoid a month-long ballot of the general party membership. The new rules are controversial, however, and have been publicly criticised by ALP Senator Stephen Conroy and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Nominations opened at a parliamentary party meeting on Friday 13 September 2013, and remained open for a week. Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten formally nominated. As there was more than one nomination, a ballot of the parliamentary party and another of the organisational party were required. The ballot of the organisational party lasted for two weeks.
Under the new Labor rules, nominations were open for one week beginning 13 September 2013. In order to be a nominated candidate, a nominee must receive the support of 20% of caucus. After the conclusion of nominations, ballots were sent to grassroots party members, who had two weeks to return their ballots. On 10 October 2013, the caucus cast their vote for leader and the grassroots ballots were counted. The two voting pools were weighted 50/50 (Caucus and grassroots each consisting 50% of the final count) and the leader declared elected accordingly.
Historically, the ALP have determined the members of cabinet (or shadow cabinet) in caucus, with the leader assigning portfolios. This is unchanged, and the parliamentary caucus of Labor elected the executive at the same time they cast voters for leader. Only the election for the parliamentary leader involved the votes of grassroots party members.
Originally only members of two years' standing were eligible to vote, but this was later widened to all ALP party members who were financial at 7 September 2013.
With the leadership decided, caucus elections (without general party membership involvement) were held to determine the shadow ministry. In a return to ALP tradition, the shadow ministry were elected by caucus, with portfolio responsibilities to be assigned by the leader. Tanya Plibersek was elected as Deputy Leader. Anna Burke, Warren Snowdon and Laurie Ferguson complained publicly about the process.
- Anthony Albanese, former Deputy Prime Minister and deputy leader under Rudd
- Bill Shorten, former Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
The following individuals ruled themselves out as candidates or were the subject of media speculation but did not stand:
- Chris Bowen, Interim leader and former Treasurer
- Tony Burke, former Minister for Immigration
- Bob Carr, former Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Jason Clare, former Minister for Justice and Home Affairs
- Tanya Plibersek, former Minister for Health
- Wayne Swan, former Treasurer under Rudd and Gillard, deputy leader under Gillard
- Australian Labor Party leadership spill, 2010
- Australian Labor Party leadership spill, 2012
- Australian Labor Party leadership spill, March 2013
- Australian Labor Party leadership spill, June 2013
- Australian federal election, 2013
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