From humble beginnings to the prime minister’s office, Anthony Albanese epitomizes multicultural Australia

Australia’s Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese is a politician shaped by his humble beginnings in life as the only child of a single mother who raised him on a boarding house in Sydney’s inner suburbs.

He is also a hero of multicultural Australia and describes himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo-Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years he has been in office.

His friends pronounce his name “Alban-ez”, like Bolognese. But after being repeatedly corrected over the years by Italians, her father’s nationality absent from her, he comes forward and is widely known as “Alban-easy”.

He shared the stage during his victory speech with Senator Penny Wong, who is set to become foreign minister. Her father was Malaysian-Chinese and her mother European-Australian.

“I think that’s fine. Someone with a non-Anglo-Celtic last name is the leader in the House of Representatives and … someone with a last name like Wong is the leader of the government in the Senate,” Albanese said.

Australia has been criticized for its excessive representation in Parliament of descendants of British colonizers. Britain is no longer Australia’s main source of immigrants since racist policies were dismantled in the 1970s. Around half of Australia’s multicultural population was born abroad or has a foreign-born parent. Chinese and Indians are now immigrating in large numbers.

Albanese has promised to rehabilitate Australia’s international reputation as a climate change laggard with deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The previous administration had stuck to the same commitment it made in the Paris Agreement in 2015: 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Albanese Labor Party has promised a 43% reduction.

His financially precarious upbringing in government-owned housing in suburban Camperdown fundamentally shaped the politician who brought the centre-left Australian Labor Party into government for the first time since 2007. He is still widely known by his childhood nickname, Albo.

“It says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mother who was retired on disability, who grew up in public housing on Camperdown Street, can stand before you tonight as Prime Minister of Australia,” Albanese said in his election victory. . Saturday speech.

“All parents want more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamed of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars,” she added.

Albanese repeatedly referred during the six-week election campaign to the life lessons he learned from his disadvantaged childhood. Labor’s campaign focused on policies including financial assistance for first-time home buyers facing rising house prices and slow wage growth.

Labor also promised cheaper childcare for working parents and better nursing home care for the elderly.

This week, Albanese vowed to start rebuilding trust in Australia when he attends a summit in Tokyo on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Albanese said he will be “completely consistent” with the current administration of Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Chinese strategic competition in the region.

But he said Australia had been placed in a “naughty corner” in the United Nations climate change negotiations by refusing to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction targets at a November conference.

“One of the ways we are increasing our standing in the region, and in the Pacific in particular, is by taking climate change seriously,” Albanese told the National Press Club.

The Biden administration and Australia “will have a relationship strengthened in our common vision on climate change and the opportunity it represents,” Albanese said.

Albanese blamed Morrison for “a whole series of damage to Australia’s international relations”.

He said that Morrison misled the United States that a secret plan to provide Australia with a fleet of US nuclear-powered submarines had the support of the Albanese Labor Party. In fact, Labor was not told of the plan until the day before it was announced in September.

Albanese also accused Morrison of leaking Emmanuel Macron’s personal text messages to the media to discredit the French president’s complaint that Australia had failed to warn that a French submarine contract would be cancelled.

In November, France’s ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, described the leak as a “new low” and a warning to other world leaders that their private communications with the Australian government could be weaponized and used against them.

Labor has also described a new security pact between China and the Solomon Islands as Australia’s worst foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War.

As a child, to spare Albanese the scandal of being “illegitimate” in a working-class Roman Catholic family in socially conservative Australia in the 1960s, he was told that his Italian father, Carlo Albanese, had been killed in a car accident. shortly after marrying his Irish-Australian mother, Maryanne Ellery, in Europe.

His mother, who became an invalid pensioner because of chronic rheumatoid arthritis, told him the truth when he was 14 years old: his father was not dead and his parents had never married.

Carlo Albanese had been a steward on a cruise ship when the couple met in 1962 during the only foreign trip of his life. He returned to Sydney from his seven-month journey across Asia to Britain and mainland Europe almost four months pregnant, according to Anthony Albanese’s 2016 biography “Albanese: Telling it Straight.”

He was living with his parents in their local government-owned house in Camperdown, an inner suburb, when their only child was born on March 2, 1963.

Out of loyalty to his mother and fear of hurting her feelings, Albanese waited until after her death in 2002 before searching for his father.

Father and son were happily united in 2009 in the father’s hometown of Barletta in southern Italy. The son was in Italy for business meetings as Australia’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure.

Anthony Albanese was a minister for the last six years in power in the Labor Party and reached his highest post, deputy prime minister, in the last three months of his government, which ended with the 2013 election.

But Albanese’s critics argue that it is not his humble origins but his leftist politics that make him unsuitable for prime minister.

The Conservative government argued he would be the most left-leaning Australian leader in nearly 50 years since shock or shock reformer Gough Whitlam, a flawed Labor Party hero.

In 1975, Whitlam became the only Australian prime minister to be removed from office by the representative of a British monarch in what is described as a constitutional crisis.

Whitlam had ushered in during his brief but tumultuous three years free university education, allowing Albanese to graduate from the University of Sydney with a degree in economics despite his meager financial resources.

Albanese’s supporters say that although he belonged to the so-called Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party, he was a pragmatist with a proven ability to deal with the more conservative elements of the party.

Albanese underwent what has been described as a makeover last year, opting for more modern suits and glasses. She has also lost 40 pounds (18 kilograms) in what many assume was an effort to make herself more attractive to voters.

Albanese says she believed she was about to die in a two-car crash in Sydney in January last year and that was the catalyst for her healthier life choices. He had briefly resigned himself to a fate he once believed had been his father’s.

After the accident, Albanese spent a night in a hospital and suffered what he described as external and internal injuries that he has not detailed. The 17-year-old who was behind the wheel of the Range Rover SUV that collided with Albanese’s much smaller Toyota Camry sedan has been charged with negligent driving.

Albanese said he was 12 years old when he became involved in his first political campaign. His fellow public housing tenants successfully defeated a local council proposal to sell their houses, a move that would have raised his rent, in a campaign that involved refusing to pay the council in a so-called rent strike.

The unpaid rent debt was forgiven, which Albanese described as a “lesson for those people who were not part of the rent strike: solidarity works.”

“As I got older, I understood the impact that government had, can have, in making a difference in people’s lives,” Albanese said. “And in particular, opportunity.”

On election day, before the vote count began, he spoke of an advantage of his upbringing.

“When you come from where I come from, one of the advantages you have is that you don’t get ahead of yourself. Everything in life is a bonus,” Albanese said.

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