Anthony Albanese’s week-long absence has allowed his other Labor teammates to shine — none more than ‘handsome’ Jason Clare.
Move over “hot Albo”, there’s a new Labor poster boy on the scene “Captain Handsome” Jason Clare.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s week-long absence barely registered with some voters who swooned over the performance of Labor’s campaign spokesperson.
Mr Clare had already set hearts racing prior to Mr Albanese’s Covid isolation but again had viewers frothing over his good looks and confident performance in a press conference on Thursday.
Even Mr Albanese had to acknowledge last week his charismatic understudy is “certainly better looking than I am” while laughing off suggestions he should be replaced.
ABC RN’s Patricia Karvelas said Labor had enjoyed quite a successful week despite Mr Albanese’s absence and it showed the party had a strong frontbench.
“I think that some people have been mesmerised by Jason Clare,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s only his good looks but he’s also a very smooth talker.”
Some noted Mr Clare was able to expertly deflect questions around why Tanya Plibersek, seen as the favourite to take over the Labor leadership, had not fronted a press conference while Mr Albanese was sick.
“Where is she for us? This is about us asking questions of frontbenchers, where is that talent?” a journalist asked on Thursday, noting a story in the Sydney Morning Herald that prominent frontbenchers including Mr Plibersek and former leader Bill Shorten had effectively been frozen out.
Mr Clare responded that Ms Plibersek had appeared on Sunrise and The Project, before turning the conversation to his opponent’s failings.
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“I think what we’ve seen over the course of the last week are two things. One, we’ve seen the government stuff up on the things that they tell people they’re good at: national security and the economy.
“The other thing is we’ve seen Albo’s team. You’ve seen that we have a strong, united team, and that we’re ready to govern.
“We’re ready to earn your vote, and we’re ready to get started on fixing the problems that Australians want us to fix. Now compare and contrast that with the other side.
“Scott Morrison talks about his team, where are they? Most of them are in hiding. Some of them are in witness protection. Where’s Alan Tudge? Can anyone find Alan Tudge?
“I don’t think Scooby Doo could find Alan Tudge at the moment.”
Many on social media praised Mr Clare’s ability to turn journalists’ “gotcha questions” into attacks on his opponents, and his delivery of “zinger after singer”, with Western Australia’s Australian of the Year and Indigenous mental health expert Dr Tracy Westerman describing it as “mesmerising”.
However, the married father-of-two told Sky News in 2014, he has “no desire” to become leader and his dream job would be the minister for education.
Last week Mr Clare was asked if he was the Labor leader many had been looking for, given the relative unpopularity of both Mr Albanese and Scott Morrison.
“There’s a few laughs in the room,” Mr Clare responded.
“The short answer is: Anthony Albanese is the leader that this country desperately needs.”
Mr Clare said it was “time to give Albo ago” and he believed Australians would vote for Labor and “a better future”.
Mr Clare served as ministers for home affairs, justice, defence materiel, as well cabinet security during the Rudd and Gillard governments.
He is currently Labor’s shadow minister for housing and homelessness, regional services, as well as territories and local government.
Mr Albanese has himself raised temperatures as “hot Albo” after a photo of him as a young man went viral, and was recently called “Albo 007” after a stylish appearance in InStyle magazine.
While Mr Albanese returned to the campaign trail on Friday, he did not hold a press conference, trusting his team to continue their good work.
While he appeared on Today, Sunrise and ABC News Breakfast, Mr Albanese left it up to Treasurer Jim Chalmers to take questions from journalists — something that did not go down well with the press pack.
News.com.au understands the Labor leader was hit hard with Covid and will be taking a backseat over the next couple of days until he is fully recovered.
Journalists at the press conference this morning however suggested Mr Albanese might be dodging scrutiny.
“Well, the campaign has still got three weeks to run,” Mr Chalmers said. “Anthony Albanese’s done a heap of interviews this morning and he will have a heap of engagements out west as well, consistent with the health advice.”
Mr Chalmers has also been praised by Ms Karvelas as a “standout” during Mr Albanese’s absence, alongside the “formidable” senator Penny Wong.