how anthony albanese went from public housing kid to australias new pm - How Anthony Albanese went from public housing kid to Australia's new PM

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – At a popular bar in the heart of Melbourne back in 2016, a slightly chubby middle-aged man stood behind a turntable leading the crowd in a sing-a-long to Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”

“It’s a good thing to have fun – as well as fight Tories,” he yelled to the crowd, which responded with applause and chants of “Albo, Albo, Albo.”

Six years later, the scarf, t-shirt and beer gut are gone, replaced with a suit, tie and stylish tortoiseshell glasses. And he’s about to be sworn in as Australia’s 31st prime minister.

For Mr Anthony Albanese, 59, the personal transformation came after he was in a head-on collision with another vehicle near his home in the Sydney suburbs in January 2021, a crash that almost cost him his life.

“I was one foot either way from checking out, and I was very lucky,” he told The Monthly magazine in Australia earlier this year. “That does a few things for you.”

He changed his look entirely, prompting incumbent Scott Morrison to accuse him of trying to be “someone else” on the campaign trail.

But Mr Albanese – who was raised by a single mother in public housing – insisted he had simply decided to get healthy. “That’s a good thing,” he said.

At the same time, he shifted the Labor Party’s political strategy, paving the way for an election win on Saturday (May 21) that ousted Mr Morrison’s conservatives after nine years in power.

Three years ago, Mr Albanese took over a disheartened and frustrated party after Labor’s shock election loss. He then deliberately avoided criticism of the government’s pandemic strategy, and instead worked with Mr Morrison at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak.

But he pivoted from that approach ahead of the election. Instead of targeting radical change, as Labor did unsuccessfully in 2019, Mr Albanese instead focused on delivering concrete gains for voters on bread-and-butter issues – and repeatedly hammered Mr Morrison for his government’s failings.

“I hope there are families in public housing watching this tonight,” Mr Albanese said in his victory speech on Saturday night. “Because I want every parent to be able to tell their child no matter where you live or where you come from, in Australia the doors of opportunity are open to us all.”

Mr Albanese is one of the first prime ministers in decades to have a working-class upbringing. He regularly says he was bred to love three things from the moment he was born: The Catholic Church, the South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby team and the Labor Party.

He developed a lifelong love of music, politics and sports, and even has a beer named after him – the Albo Corn Ale.