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Anthony Albanese Admits To Deliberately Freezing Out Labor Leader Bill Shorten

"I think it’s absurd that I get some 14-year-old in a leader’s office somewhere checking all the points."

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Senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese has boasted about cutting Labor leader Bill Shorten's office out of the loop by sending out media releases via a third-party email marketing service to bypass approval from central office.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

“I think it’s absurd that I get some 14-year-old in a leader’s office somewhere checking all the points,” Albanese told a panel during August's Canberra Writers Festival.

He also confessed to not reading Labor's talking points, issued daily by the opposition leader's office.

"I’ve found a really good way of not sounding like you’re sticking to the talking points: Don’t read them,” he said. "And I don’t.

"I just think we’d be far better off if there was a little bit of, ‘Yeah, there’ll be occasional embarrassment.’ I think there’s far too much in politics – on both sides – concentration on getting the message ‘right’.”

Albanese's media alerts, releases, and transcripts have been written and sent out by staff members in his office, not from the opposition leader's office as is normal practice for every other Labor politician since 2013.

They use the same distribution list as Shorten's office, but don't get their material vetted by anyone. His office is currently using the third-party email marketing service Mailchimp, which allows subscribers to update their preferences or unsubscribe without contacting his office. It also informs the office of who on the mailing list opens each email and who doesn't.

Some Labor insiders are convinced this is an early sign of a move by the Labor left faction to cut Shorten's office out of the loop and mount a leadership challenge.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

But others inside the party suggest it is part of a gentleman's agreement that Albanese has with Shorten to maintain autonomy over the way his office is run and not require the leader's tick of approval over his movements, after Albanese lost the leadership vote in 2013.

Labor leadership rumours have refused to die down since the federal election, despite Labor's better-than-expected election result.

Sources point to the release of Karen Middleton's book Anthony Albanese: Telling It Straight as strategic image-softening pre-spill behaviour, although Middleton has denied that the timing of the book's release was planned.

Shorten’s office confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Albanese had been using third-party software for a number of years, but denied there were any tensions between the two.

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

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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