Leigh pays factional price as he’s dropped from shadow ministry

Genevieve Jacobs 30 May 2019 40
Andrew Leigh

Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh will not be a member of the shadow ministry. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The Federal member for Fenner and former shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has paid a high price for being an independent non-aligned MP as he’s dumped from Anthony Albanese’s shadow ministry.

He will return to the backbench, while returning Left aligned Senator Katy Gallagher has regained a shadow portfolio amidst a shake-up that’s revealed the factional divides that still rule many ALP internal decisions.

Congratulating the new leader’s front bench, Dr Leigh said “I am privileged to have had the chance to serve for the past six years as part of Labor’s frontbench economic team”, nominating a number of achievements in the portfolio and in his roles as Shadow Minister for Competition, and Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-Profits.

Pledging his support to the new leader, Dr Leigh urged non-aligned members of the ALP “to stay engaged with Australia’s oldest and greatest political party. Working in conjunction with the union movement, ours is a powerful force, and millions of voiceless people are counting on Labor”.

But ANU political scientist Dr Norman Abjorensensays the choice to drop Leigh, a former professor of economics with a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, is “an appalling loss. He was one of the few genuine original thinkers in the party and they need all the intellectual firepower they can get”.

Dr Abjorensen says that while the factions serve a purpose in bringing together a coalition of interests in the Labor movement, Dr Leigh’s plight illustrates a significant downside.

“It shows the limits of Anthony Albanese’s leadership if he can push for the inclusion of Kristina Keneally but is powerless to include someone like Andrew Leigh with his strong economic background and intellect”.

Newly elected Member for Canberra Alicia Payne indicated to RiotACT before the election that she’d be an independent. Member For Bean David Smith is believed to be aligned to the Right but was also not keen to discuss his factional affiliation pre-election.

Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has been unaligned for the duration of his 43 year ALP membership and says he believes the factions are “the great negative of the Labor Party. If Andrew Leigh can’t take a place simply because he doesn’t have factional support, that speaks volumes about the lack of commitment to selection on merit that bedevils the ALP and consequently, the calibre and quality of our representatives”.

“Factions mean that we preselect candidates who are quite clearly not always the best available and that feeds into quality of our membership and ministry. We don’t talk about it openly, because nobody wants to suggest that some people aren’t all that smart”.

Mr Stanhope said he was also disappointed that despite the Rudd reforms, the ALP rank and file had not had the chance to vote for the current leadership, a situation he said had been “clearly confected through factional manoeuvring”, adding that the exclusion of ordinary members as a consequence was “an enormously retrograde step”.

Former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope believes factions have bedevilled the ALP. Photo: Charlotte Harper.

Dr Abjorensen said that while the non-aligned choice might be ethically appealing, it was not necessarily helpful for Canberra’s parliamentary representation despite the fact that our three Federal electorates and at least one Senate seat are all but guaranteed for the ALP.

“I think the fact that Anthony Albanese has gotten up unopposed is a sign that there is not that much generational change going on after the election loss. There are factional people who have frankly been around too long like Joel Fitzgibbon, you look at the lack of numbers for Tanya Plibersek, the energy that went into dissuading Jim Chalmers to run for what looked like factional reasons.

“It’s a retreat, not an advance, and it encapsulates Andrew Leigh’s plight,” he said.

But Senator Gallagher described the shadow ministry as the right balance of experience and fresh faces and said she was honoured to be on the front bench again.

She said she would make sure Canberra was well represented at Labor’s decision making table.”I will serve in whatever capacity Albo thinks is best for the Labor team, and hold this government to account,” she said.

“I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of my ACT colleague Andrew Leigh in the economic team leading up to the last election. Andrew is an enthusiastic member of the team and I am sure he will continue to have a lot to contribute to the Labor agenda heading towards the next election.”

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
40 Responses to Leigh pays factional price as he’s dropped from shadow ministry
Rob Calvert Rob Calvert 9:23 pm 31 May 19

How not to win the next election, when will Labor ever learn. Christine Keneally is a great performer but Labor needs some smart people too!

Alison Elliott Alison Elliott 7:56 pm 31 May 19

He'd make a great chief minister

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:11 pm 31 May 19

This is how political parties operate – Labor are the worst. All candidates that are chosen for election know this so it is a not really worth examining the chicken’s entrails.

David Vickers David Vickers 12:47 pm 31 May 19

The drawback of having a very safe seat?

maxblues maxblues 12:36 pm 31 May 19

While danger (anagram) lurks, the Labor Party don’t need no fancy economics professor (and yes, it is a double negative).

Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 10:52 am 31 May 19

Dumb move. Andrew Leigh so smart.

Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 9:48 am 31 May 19

“But ANU political scientist Dr Norman Abjorensen says the choice to drop Leigh, a former professor of economics with a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, is ‘an appalling loss. He was one of the few genuine original thinkers in the party and they need all the intellectual firepower they can get’.”

Here’s an example of that “intellectual firepower”:


Sherida Keenan Sherida Keenan 8:51 am 31 May 19

He is bloody brilliant...Stupid.Stupid.STUPID.Argh!!!!

Peter Drady Dradrach Peter Drady Dradrach 5:55 am 31 May 19

Become an independent for Canberra

    Michael Jordan Michael Jordan 9:18 pm 03 Jun 19

    Peter Drady Dradrach I still reckon a Canberra Party with ex-aps would do well. Imagine the influence of two senators and three reps working as a block to promote long term public policy......

Noel Benjamin Noel Benjamin 2:18 am 31 May 19

The only credible economist in the party.

Rita Scholl Rita Scholl 10:44 pm 30 May 19

Surely an oversight

Karna O'Dea Karna O'Dea 10:01 pm 30 May 19

What twits. Leight understnads economics unlike many of the others. He is also a decent bloike

Rod Holesgrove Rod Holesgrove 9:29 pm 30 May 19

Disgraceful - very discouraging for ACT Labor members. If someone with Andrew’s talent can’t get even a shadow Ministry spot ...

Karen Betts Karen Betts 9:15 pm 30 May 19

A man of integrity. No wonder this happened. It’s not well recognised in current politics. Hang in there Andrew. Better days ahead...

Lexie Donald Lexie Donald 7:21 pm 30 May 19


the factions fked up the Rudd govt

The last potential statesperson seen by australia with another 3yrs of oh ffs coming up

What plothera if numpties we have suffered

Mark Bundy Mark Bundy 7:15 pm 30 May 19

Fkng crazy

Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 7:12 pm 30 May 19

Its a slap in the face to merit - the recipe that made the Hawke Keating government work and win.

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 9:44 pm 30 May 19

    Peter Hatfield and perhaps why they are no longer successful

Margaret Gracie Margaret Gracie 6:48 pm 30 May 19

Good on you for standing by your principles and not joining a faction. There shouldn't be any in the Labor Party. Keep in there you time will come again.

Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 6:46 pm 30 May 19

ALP had a chance to choose whether they would be in Opposition for 3 or 6 years.

They chose factional allegiance over competence.

They thus, unfortunately, chose to be in Opposition for at least 6 years.

Australia’s loss.

    Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 9:22 pm 30 May 19

    Tony Morris Don’t worry mate, Scomo and his mates will do it even more quickly.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:33 pm 30 May 19

By way of a modest suggestion, perhaps Dr Leigh could give some attention – with the relative freedom of a backbencher – to economic models and options for Canberra and the ‘Capital Region’ which move us away (in reality, not just in rhetoric backed by selective statistics) from a heavy reliance on federal spending.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site