Bill Shorten is facing pushback from colleagues over his desire to become Labor’s health spokesman, with some opposition MPs suggesting he retire or be demoted to the outer shadow ministry.
After The Australian today revealed Mr Shorten was interested in taking on the health portfolio, several Labor MPs suggested he should not be rewarded by new leader Anthony Albanese.
The former opposition leader maintains some support in the caucus and from senior party figures, including Victorian powerbroker Stephen Conroy, who have advocated for Mr Shorten to be handed a senior role given his experience and work to unite the party under his leadership.
Mr Albanese today said he would not be announcing his shadow ministry when Labor politicians meet in Canberra for their first post-election caucus on Thursday. Nor would he speculate about his frontbench, which is expected to be drawn up by the weekend, saying only that Queenslanders would be placed “in significant roles”.
The Australian understands current health spokeswoman Catherine King, who campaigned alongside Mr Shorten spruiking Labor’s $2.3 billion Medicare cancer plan, has told Mr Albanese she wants to stay in the portfolio she has held since 2013.
A Labor MP said Mr Shorten would be a good pick in health or a National Disability Insurance Scheme-focused role, but suggested Ms King would want to continue her work in the portfolio.
“He would do well in a domestic portfolio. The health announcements were one of the strongest parts of the campaign. But Catherine might want to stay in that spot,” the MP said.