Retiring Richmond MP and former minister Richard Wynne has known both men since the mid-1990s when he worked for former deputy prime minister Brian Howe, Andrews worked for former federal MP Alan Griffin and Albanese was newly elected to parliament.
Wynne, who was at Monday’s event in Port Melbourne, says:“there is a genuine warmth and friendship between them and that’s not a bad thing for Victoria.”
“Albo came down to give the troops a rev up. The two of them were more than just comrades, they were almost like brothers,” he says.
Back in November last year, Albanese posted a photograph of himself and Andrews enjoying a barbecue together and noted the pair had once been housemates.
That accommodation was a flat in Queanbeyan, a small NSW town on the border of Canberra, that Griffin – Andrew’s former boss – and Victorian MP Lindsay Tanner shared. After Albanese was elected in 1996, he had also stayed at the flat during sitting weeks for a number of months and, after Andrews started travelling to Canberra to work with Griffin, he’d slept on the couch.
Griffin said it was not the tidiest place, comparing it to the falling-apart house shared by four students in the riotous early 80s British comedy The Young Ones, “but with three Vyvyans [an anarchist punk] and one Mike”.
Griffin says Andrews and Albanese get along fine and “I’ve never seen any evidence to the contrary”.
But a state Labor operative, who asked not to be named so they could speak freely, says the pair have had a good relationship in the past “but since Albo because leader of the opposition there was a level of mistrust as Dan does what he has to do for himself”.
“At the start of the pandemic, the federal opposition was completely shut out of national cabinet and they were definitely not happy about it.”
“It would help federal Labor if Dan took a haircut. Being able to hold seats like Cooper and Macnamara will become harder against the Greens if you have an arrogant state Labor government.”
Staff in the Albanese and Andrews offices point out the prime minister has had a busy month since the writs were issued on Monday, October 31. Federal parliament sat for a week, and he is just back from a nine-day trip to Bali, Bangkok and Phnom Penh s
But federal parliament was not sitting in the first week of the state campaign – and Albanese found time to visit Victoria twice in the first week, but didn’t link up with Andrews.
The first event was with federal Labor MP Josh Burns in suburban Balaclava on October 31, when Albanese promised to be back in Victoria and on the hustings.
“I’ll be with the premier and I will campaign, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, who has apparently been barred from coming to Victoria,” Albanese said at the time, when asked why he wasn’t standing alongside Andrews.
The state government at the time was focused on the flood response and the pair issued a joint media release announcing an $877 million recovery support package for those hit by devastating floods.
Two days later, as the Victorian campaign started in earnest after Cup Day, the prime minister was back in Melbourne but not on the campaign trail. Instead, he appeared on Melbourne’s Fox FM, Network Ten’s The Project and then delivered a speech at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference at Melbourne University.
A Victorian federal Labor MP, who asked not be named, was surprised to learn that Albanese had been at the private campaign event on Monday.
He sums it up like this: “if I was Albo, I would stay well away. Dan isn’t particularly popular”.
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.