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Devastating reason Tanya Plibersek abandoned leadership plans

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Tanya Plibersek’s daughter has revealed the harrowing reason her mother abandoned plans to challenge for the Labor leadership after the 2019 federal election.

In the days after Scott Morrison’s victory, Ms Plibersek was widely tipped to run as party leader after Bill Shorten’s electoral defeat, and the media was anticipating her announcement.

But she surprised the political world by instead announcing “now is not the time”, adding: “I cannot reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership”.

Now Ms Plibersek’s daughter Anna has revealed the real reason her mother placed family before any ambition to potentially become prime minister.

Sharing her devastating personal story of abuse, Anna has told how Ms Plibersek chose to support her through domestic violence, giving evidence at the trial and staying by Anna’s side in court.

At the time Plibersek had to make the decision whether to seek the Labor leadership knowing Anna would soon have to face being a witness against her abuser.

“And the thought of not being able to be there for her through that was just too much,” Ms Plibersek said.

But in an extract from the biography, Tanya Plibersek: On Her Own Terms, Ms Plibersek believes she would have won the party’s top job had she run.

In an interview published on Saturday in Good Weekend magazine, Ms Plibersek said she would have become Labor leader in 2019 had she nominated for the role, which means she could today be prime minister.

Ms Plibersek responded to claims from those backgrounding against her at the time of the leadership race that she didn’t have the numbers.

“That’s absolutely what people who like to background against me would say. We’ll never know. It’s history,” she said. “But I am pretty confident that if I had run, I would have won.”

Albanese: ‘I was elected unopposed’

Asked about the claims while campaigning for April’s Aston by-election in Melbourne, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese brushed aside questions about party-room rivalry

“She’s been a friend of mine for a very long period of time,” he said.

“I was elected unopposed after the 2019 election and I won in 2022, and I’m very proud of the amazing team that I have.”

Taking the deflection a step further, the Prime Minister said one of the differences between his own team and that of the opposition was that it was being led by Peter Dutton “because they can’t find anyone better”.

“They reluctantly chose him, even though half his colleagues don’t like him at all,” he said.

However Mr Dutton’s deputy and opposition spokeswoman for women Sussan Ley took the opportunity to side with Ms Plibersek.

“As a woman and a mother, I was incredibly touched by Tanya’s story and I particularly want to praise her daughter Anna, who so bravely articulated her story,” she said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

“There is no doubt in Tanya Plibersek’s mind that she would have won the Labor leadership in 2019 and, looking at the first nine months under Prime Minister Albanese, there’s probably not much doubt in anyone else’s mind either.”

Plibersek ‘devastated’

On Saturday morning, Ms Plibersek took to Twitter to explain she and her husband had been devastated to learn about what had happened to Anna.

They had decided to share the story after Anna and some friends set up a volunteer organisation Survivor Hub to help other domestic violence victims.

“Like any parents, her father and I were devastated when we found out.

“Anna is sharing her story today because since then, she and some friends have set up a peer support volunteer-run organisation called the survivor hub to try and help other people who are going through what they experienced,’’ she said.

“We know that this is a story that is so common in Australia, we know the statistics about one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

“And those statistics are just devastating.

“This is an opportunity for people to reach out and get help from the survivor hub of course also from 1 800 Respect, there is help out there.

“I hope this story makes someone else’s journey a little easier.”

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