FORMER Wannon Labor candidate Michael Barling says new party leader Bill Shorten is well poised to plug the party’s health and education reforms, despite having supported Anthony Albanese during the leadership ballot.
Mr Barling, who ran an energetic but unsuccessful campaign against sitting Liberal MP Dan Tehan this year, said he had hoped to see Mr Albanese emerge as leader from the month-long leadership battle between the two labor figures.
“I was supporting Anthony Albanese. I think what capped it off was his performance on infrastructure and regional issues,” Mr Barling said.
Mr Shorten won 52 per cent of the overall ballot under the new voting process evenly decided by caucus and rank and file members.
Mr Barling said he had spoken with Labor MPs including Ballarat’s Catherine King by email and Geelong-based Corio member Richard Marles over the phone to gauge the support of the south-west Labor Party branch.
Asked if Warrnambool’s branch had thrown its weight behind Mr Albanese, Mr Barling said it was unclear but pointed to election figures showing 60 per cent support for Mr Albanese from branch rank-and-file members.
Mr Barling talked up Mr Shorten’s record as a reformer in the Gonski education reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“I think he’s shown himself as a strong policy performer and I think that he will be a good opponent against the Abbott government and keeping the opposition accountable,” Mr Barling said.