Leading Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has thrown down the gauntlet in the federal seat of Grayndler, announcing he will recontest the seat he has held for nearly 20 years despite earlier indications that he might move to the neighbouring seat of Barton.
However he remains under threat from the Greens because of the radically redrawn electoral boundaries.
Anthony Albanese with a fight on his hands
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese takes a swipe at his Greens opponent, while announcing he's re-contesting the seat of Grayndler. Courtesy ABC News 24.
In a carefully staged piece of political theatre, Mr Albanese chose to make the announcement from Balmain's Unity Hall Hotel, birthplace of the Australian Labor Party 125 years ago. The Balmain peninsula (which returned a Greens candidate at the last state election) has been moved into Grayndler, which at the same time has lost parts of Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Hurlstone Park, and the student epicentres of Newtown and Camperdown.
Emphasising his environmental credentials as the original author of Labor's renewable energy targets and emissions trading scheme, Mr Albanese signalled a knockdown battle in the electorate with a savage attack on his Greens rival, Jim Casey, whom he targeted without uttering Mr Casey's name.
"The Greens political party candidate who has been chosen in this electorate has spent more time in the international socialist organisation than he has in the Greens political party," Mr Albanese claimed. "If he was fair dinkum, he would run as an international socialist and see how many votes he got. "
He added that "the Greens have been captured in this area by people who .... want to use the Greens banner to advance an agenda that is about anything but the environment".
Mr Casey, currently on leave from his post as state secretary of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union, said Mr Albanese was running a "reds under the beds scare campaign" in a sign that "Anthony is a little bit worried".
He described the international socialists as a "now defunct student organisation", which he'd left more than a decade ago, and that it was "sad" to see a prominent member of Labor attacking someone for having "left-wing politics".
Mr Albanese, who enjoys strong grassroots support inside the Labor Party and is seen by many as successor to current Opposition Leader Bill Shorten should Mr Shorten be deposed, also turned his guns on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He said Mr Turnbull was leading a party divided by an internal war between conservatives and moderates but his bigger problem was that "Malcolm Turnbull is at war with himself. He is at war with the positions he has held over a political lifetime, on the republic, on marriage equality, on taking serious action to avoid dangerous climate change.
"Today we have the exact opposite of a conviction politician, we have someone who has traded all of his principles for the keys to The Lodge," Mr Albanese added.
He said he was "flabbergasted" by Mr Turnbull's rebuff of support for a republic declared by state premiers and territory leaders this week.
Malcolm Turnbull is at war with himself. He is at war with the positions he has held over a political lifetime.Labor MP Anthony Albanese
"If there was any semblance of integrity left in Malcolm Turnbull, how could he come out with that position? It's a complete repudiation of a lifetime of political engagement."
Mr Albanese also defended the right of South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill to keep expressing support for the option of a GST increase to remain on the table, despite federal Labor's strong campaign against any GST increase.
"We are not a Stalinist party. Jay Weatherill is entitled as the Premier to put his views on behalf of the South Australian government, he is entitled to do that," Mr Albanese said.
There have been calls from some inside Labor to bind Mr Weatherill to the federal party's position.
Mr Albanese's decision to recontest Grayndler averts what might have been the need for a complex factional deal if he had moved to the now notionally Labor right-wing adjoining seat of Barton.