Prime minister-elect Anthony Albanese is a politician moulded by his humble start to life as the only child of a single mother who raised him on a pension in gritty inner-Sydney suburbia.
He is also a hero of multicultural Australia, describing himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo-Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years the office has existed.
His friends pronounce his name “Alban-ez,” like bolognese.
But having been repeatedly corrected over the years by Italians, the nationality of his absent father, he introduces himself and is widely known as “Alban-easy”.
Mr Albanese’s financially precarious upbringing in a housing commission home in suburban Camperdown fundamentally formed the politician who has led the Australian Labor Party into government for the first time since 2007.
He is still widely known by his childhood nickname, Albo, and lists his three great faiths in life as The Catholic Church, the Labor Party and the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league team.
“It says a lot about our great country that a son of a single mum who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister,” Mr Albanese said in his election victory speech.
“Every parent wants more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamt of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars,” he added.
During the six-week election campaign, Mr Albanese repeatedly referred to the life lessons he learned from his disadvantaged childhood.
As a young child, to spare Mr Albanese the scandal of being “illegitimate” in a working-class Catholic family in socially conservative 1960s Australia, he was told that his Italian father, Carlo Albanese, had died 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 overseas trip of her life.
She returned to Sydney from her seven-month journey through Asia to Britain and continental Europe almost four months pregnant, according to the Labor leader’s 2016 biography, Albanese: Telling it Straight.
She was living with her parents in their local government-owned house in inner-suburban Camperdown when her only child was born on March 2, 1963.
Out of loyalty to his mother and a fear of hurting her feelings, Mr 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 for transport and infrastructure.
‘Fighting Tories’ and political turmoil
Anthony Albanese was a minister throughout Labor’s most recent six years in power and reached his highest office — deputy prime minister — in the government’s final three months, which ended with the 2013 election.
His ascent to the role came on the back of his support for Kevin Rudd in a leadership spill, which saw the former prime minister return as leader, ousting then-prime minister Julia Gillard in the process.
An emotional Mr Albanese had backed Mr Rudd in an unsuccessful leadership spill the year previous, choking back tears when he announced his intent to support Ms Gillard’s removal.
He said he had made the move as an attempt to end the infighting which had plagued the party since Mr Rudd’s 2010 ousting.