back to top

Bill Shorten Must Pick Up 12 Seats Or Risks Losing The Leadership

Shorten plans to announce in his concession speech that he wants to stay on as Labor leader. But the move is on.

Posted on

The election result hasn't been called but Labor sources behind the scenes are already organising a succession plan for Bill Shorten.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Senior Labor sources have told BuzzFeed News that if Labor picks up more than 12 seats, Shorten's position will be safe. But if the party picks up fewer than 10, he's in trouble.

It's understood Shorten will announce he wants to stay on as leader during his concession speech on Saturday night.

The last three days of the election campaign have been plagued by speculation that some in the Labor caucus are already looking toward shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese as the next leader.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

On Friday, Labor powerbroker, NSW Senator Sam Dastyari, moved the stop the rumours that numbers were being counted for Albanese behind the scenes by pledging his "unequivocal" support for Shorten.

Movements against the opposition leader were quashed by senior Labor figures six months ago.

Powerbrokers agreed to give him until after the election to prove himself.

BuzzFeed News understands that if Shorten contests the leadership, fellow right faction member and shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen won't run against him. Instead he'll face off against the left's Albanese, who he beat in 2013 to get the top job.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

Tanya Plibersek and Tony Burke's names have also been linked to leadership bids, but are seen as unlikely to stand.

Those close to the opposition leader say he is still holding out hope he might pull off a dark horse election victory, similar to Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.