Anthony Albanese is set to be elected unopposed as Labor leader with Queenslander Jim Chalmers as his deputy as Chris Bowen prepares to pull out of the ballot.
The New Daily has confirmed that challenger Chris Bowen is likely to pull out of the race before the ballot proceeds.
The decision means that unless another challenger comes forward a ballot can be avoided and the new leadership team put in place swiftly.
Labor insiders also rubbished claims that Bill Shorten, the interim leader, had pushed Mr Bowen to run to stop his former rival, Mr Albanese.
While Mr Shorten had encouraged him to run, Mr Bowen had also decided to run to give himself a chance to respond to attacks over his role in the policy decisions being blamed for the election shock loss.
Nominations for the leadership close on Friday. Even if Mr Bowen does formally nominate, he is expected to withdraw from the race shortly afterwards.
The leadership team, to be elected unopposed, would then consist of Mr Albanese, Mr Chalmers and Labor’s Penny Wong, who would remain as Senate leader.
Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally will take the job of deputy Senate leader from the Right faction’s Don Farrell, a South Australian.
The decision means that while the party has no women as leader or deputy leader, they do hold both positions in the Senate.
Earlier, Senator Wong urged Labor to get behind Mr Albanese’s leadership.
“Anthony Albanese knows who he is and he knows what he stands for. He’s a man of authenticity and integrity. He’s got a capacity to speak to people across this great country, to speak to people in the regions and in the outer suburbs as well as in our cities,” Senator Wong said.
“Albo is the outstanding parliamentarian of our generation. He’s shown that in his previous capacity as Leader in the House and he’s shown that he can work with people across the Parliament to achieve the outcomes that benefit working people.
“I think he is the best person to lead us and he is the best person to take up the fight to Scott Morrison and the Coalition. He’s also the best person to unify our party, which is so important after this.”
Senator Wong said she doubted that Mr Shorten had involved himself in meddling over the leadership to stop Mr Albanese.
“I would be surprised if that were occurring. I’d be surprised because it’s not consistent with the role he now has and I’d be surprised because it would potentially undermine the very unity he has been part of developing and building in opposition,” she said.
“Obviously Labor just suffered a disappointing loss on Saturday night. I want to open by saying thank you to Bill Shorten. We thank him for unifying the party. Bill led a united and stable team for six years, rebuilt our party after the 2013 loss; and for that he deserves our thanks and respect.”