Joel Fitzgibbon backs Anthony Albanese for Labor leader but rules out deputy bid

Satisfied: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon (left) in federal parliament with Anthony Albanese. Mr Fitzgibbon will back Mr Albanese's leadership bid after the withdrawal of Chris Bowen.
Satisfied: Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon (left) in federal parliament with Anthony Albanese. Mr Fitzgibbon will back Mr Albanese's leadership bid after the withdrawal of Chris Bowen.

HUNTER MP Joel Fitzgibbon will not nominate for the federal Labor deputy leadership because of the gender optics.

"I may have," he told the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday after throwing his support behind the left's Anthony Albanese.

"But we can't have a male NSW leader of the party and a male NSW deputy leader."

Mr Fitzgibbon was encouraged to nominate for the deputy position on Sunday after a near-death electoral result in which his safe Labor seat was reduced to marginal following a late One Nation assault.

By Tuesday the veteran MP said he would stand for the leadership to shift Labor's city-centric focus to regional and rural Australia.

He said after speaking with Mr Albanese about where Labor failed the bush "I'm satisfied Albo gets it".

In a statement Mr Fitzgibbon, of the party's right, said Chris Bowen's withdrawal from the leadership contest left him "free to put my support behind Anthony Albanese".

"I've had a long discussion with Albo about my demands that the party strengthens its focus on regional Australia, provides it with a meaningful seat at the party's decision-making table, and engages more on the issues which matter most to working people living in our great regions," he said.

"I am satisfied that a Labor Party led by Anthony Albanese will provide that focus and he'll listen closely to the needs and aspirations of our country people. As a consequence, I will not be a part of the leadership contest.

"I wish Albo the very best and look forward to working with him and the team to re-build Labor's support in regional Australia and amongst blue collar workers."

This story Hunter MP ends leadership talk because of gender optics first appeared on Newcastle Herald.