Former treasurer Chris Bowen says he will not seek the Labor leadership.


“I have decided I will not be a candidate for the leadership of the Labor party,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Mr Bowen said it was his decision not to run.

“There’s an obligation on each of us to make ourselves available for positions of leadership if we feel genuinely that we are the best possible candidate at any particular time,” he said.

“Equally, there’s an obligation not to put our names forward if we don’t feel that.

“The conclusion I’ve reached will be obvious to you.”

Mr Bowen said he would fill any role the new leader wanted him to carry out, including that of shadow treasurer.

Mr Bowen said Labor in opposition needed to be united and focused, to hold the new Abbott government to account and to heed the message from Saturday’s federal election.

“We need a period of reflection to determine how best to determine that united and stable opposition but we need to provide it from today,” he said.

Labor also needed to build on its “successes and achievements” in government over the past six years.

“We need to acknowledge and build on our strong record of economic growth in difficult circumstances,” Mr Bowen said.

“Our ability to introduce landmark reforms like DisabilityCare and better school funding.”

Mr Bowen said the deputy Labor leadership was a separate matter.

“We’ll see how the leadership pans out,” he said.

“Again, there will be a number of very good people interested in the deputy leadership if that should be vacant.”

The Kevin Rudd supporter also said the former prime minister could make an “ongoing contribution” to Labor and Australia, although it was up to him to decide what that might be.

“He should be given all the time he needs to make that decision and those announcements and it’s entirely a matter for him,” Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen said Labor had a talented team and noted some names had already been mentioned as possible leadership contenders.

“I think all of those potential candidates are people of great talent and ability,” he said.

“They, I know, are going through the process that I have gone through over the last 24 hours to consider their options and they’ll make their own plans in their own good time.”

Those touted as future Labor leaders include Anthony Albanese, from the Left, and Bill Shorten, from the Right.

If they both decided to stand, the matter would go to the grass roots membership for a vote.

If only one stood, Mr Bowen said that person would automatically be declared the leader.

“If there is only one candidate that doesn’t indicate anything other than the fact that there is a consensus emerged, and that is not a bad thing necessarily,” Mr Bowen said.

He said his own decision not to stand was made after he reflected on the qualities he thought he could bring to the job, the qualities of other possible candidates and the point in the electoral cycle.

He also considered what he might be able to contribute as shadow treasurer.

“I decided the best fit for me was that role going forward,” he said.

Mr Bowen declined to endorse another Labor MP for leader, saying he’d wait to see who nominated.

Bowen will not run for Labor leadership