The Real Albo

Can decades of hard-left advocacy be replaced in a single electoral term. Has Albo had an epiphany?

The Real Albo

With a Federal election in the wind and the polls looking rather grim for the government, it’s probably time to get to know the bloke who could be the next Prime Minister.

Anthony Albanese is a long serving member of the Labor left faction and has enjoyed a 26 year parliamentary career. He represents the inner city, very woke electorate of Grayndler in New South Wales.

Despite being around politics for more than a quarter of a century you might not recognise the man asking for your vote at this election.

Albo, as he is widely known, is barely identifiable from his previous self. New suits, new glasses and a healthy weight loss – he looks almost Prime Ministerial.

All politicians go through these changes when looking to climb another position up the greasy pole.

The new glasses reset the face, and I’ve known politicians to have plain glass opticals, just to appear more serious.

The weight loss is all about being camera friendly and looking less like a bloated gourmand feasting permanently on the public purse.

I remember coming back from a break and seeing an emaciated Malcolm Turnbull and commenting to a colleague that he’s either sick or making a run for leader.

This is the stuff of modern politics where appearance matters in trying to get every vote possible.

But what matters more is the history, the attitude and the long-standing intent of those seeking your endorsement for the top job.

That’s far more important than how they look or the suite of policies that they present for this election.

We’ve all learned that policies are hollow promises but the ethos underpinning how a nation should be governed is often hard-wired from decades of experience.

I don’t see how that changes at one election. In the age old saying “A leapord doesn’t change it spots. “

So when you examine Albo’s spots what do you find? It certainly presents differently to what we see on our screens today.

His maiden speech paints a telling picture.

There's no real work experience outside of the union movement.

He was critical of the need for a sound economic basis for policy – in particular a third runway at Sydney airport.

Despite recently saying he wanted to govern like Howard and Hawke he was critical of them both, back then labelling Howard’s government as committed to “out-dated, right wing, economic rationalism”

If that’s a problem then it seems to suggests support for “modern, left-wing, economic irrationalism. “ colloquially known as magic pudding economics.

In that speech Albanese lamented that there was a growing trend of contraction in the public sector – that means he wants bigger government -  and then specifically targeted cuts in infrastructure spending…this was after lambasting the infrastructure spending on the third runway just moments before.

He was Each way Albo way back then. And big government Albo too.

His time in the parliament has been just as interesting. He famously declared “I like fighting tories. That’s what I do.”

It now it appears he wants to be one.

However it’s often the little things that provide true insight into character. These are the things that often go under the radar but can be very telling.

I always thought that when examining how Albanese has chosen to uphold his personal requirements to the parliament.

These are standardised requirements common to all parliamentarians,  including a disclosure of pecuniary interests.

This is the record of external assets, liabilities, gifts and benefits that all politicians are expected to fill in. The rules are clear and there is an expectation that politicians, for the good of the parliament,  should adhere to both the the law and the intent behind it.

These disclosures are required for spouses too. They are prudent means of showing potential conflicts of interest.

Albo, was married to a NSW politician Carmel Tebbit. They’ve since broken up which is none of anyone’s business.

However, while they were married, Albanese had this to say about his legal requirement to disclose the financial interests of his then wife.

In one report dated 20 October 2010 he claimed that he didn’t know if his wife had a bank account, savings or investment accounts or any liabilities.

However he did declare knowing she didn’t own any stocks or other investments. That seems rather inconsistent to me.

The next term (the 44th parliament) he detailed he knew she had a bank account.

Then there was the 2017 requirement for all parliamentarians to declare the citizenship status.  He completed the form, and in accordance with being raised by a single mother, he left the name of the father section blank.

Now that’s entirely appropriate if you know nothing of your father but Albo had been on a journey of discovery to track down his biological father.

He succeeded and reunited with him on several occasions in Italy before his death in 2014.

Frankly I think it is a wonderful story of reunion but it does suggest that the 2017 disclosure wasn’t as full and frank as perhaps it should be.

Whether Albanese, being the son of an Italian citizen entitles him to Italian citizenship…and therefore rendered ineligible to sit in parliament is strangely an unresolved question.

But I think it needs to be.

These are just a couple of examples that I think indicate a lack of respect for the requirements of parliament from a man who wants to be the Prime Minister.

And what about the policy positions?

Over the years they have been consistently hard-left true to his fighting tories form.

In 1987 he criticised the Hawke government as having lost touch with people and Keating as: “being more comfortable with millionaires and business executives than…working class people”

As a backbencher he said of John Howard:

“In the pantheon of chinless blue bloods and suburban accountants that makes up the Australian Liberal Party, this bloke is truly one out of the box.”

Remember, these are the people he wants us to believe he now aspires to emulate?

Of course, it is possible that Albo's ‘road to Damascus’ conversion is genuine.

Even the ‘conviction politician’ of decades of hard left advocacy might suddenly realise how wrong he has been.

But we haven’t seen an apology or explanation from Albanese as to how he has come to this new found enlightenment or a repudiation of his previous views.

Instead, we are left with a new look leader dispensing words that seem designed to mask the sentiment that has been at the core of his character for decades.

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