Anthony Albanese has revealed he offered to quit politics three years ago in a doomed attempt to save his marriage with Carmel Tebbutt.
The sliding doors moment is revealed in a new book Victory: The inside story of Labor’s return to power by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, published by HarperCollins.
The book reveals how close Mr Albanese came to throwing in the towel when he was told his marriage was over on New Year’s Day 2019.
“I thought we would spend our life together,” he said. “It was a life-changing thing because it wasn’t expected.”
Mr Albanese has repeatedly claimed the break-up was a complete shock to him prompting him to offer to quit politics.
“When that didn’t make a difference,” he said, “I was not in a great personal state. I found that very personally traumatic and I was wondering what I was going to do with my life because it was heading in one direction and then it wasn’t. It just changed instantly.”
Stream your news live & on demand with Flash. From CNN International, Al Jazeera, Sky News, BBC World, CNBC & more. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer ends 31 October, 2022 >
Mr Albanese, who has told friends Ms Tebbutt left him a note explaining the reasons, said he missed her political counsel over decades.
“What I had to come to terms with was I needed to accept it rather than understand it,’’ he said.
“Friends outside politics who were helping me through that difficult time counselled me that when you get a shock in your life you don’t change other things. I stayed in the house where I was with (my son) Nathan.”
Mr Albanese then took a holiday overseas to clear his head.
“I went by myself to London and Lisbon. I knew people in London and I’ve got a lot of Portuguese people in my electorate so I went to Lisbon, met the foreign minister. I had that two weeks just to think about ‘Am I up to this?’ – another election campaign and all that. I had to be certain. I was.”
The book also reveals that such was the antipathy between Mr Albanese and Scott Morrison that they abandoned the traditional hand over meeting at the Lodge.
After a quick conversation, “a pleasant enough chat” on election night Mr Albanese said “Thanks to you and your family for your service,”.
The book recounts that Mr Albanese wasn’t interested in a tour of The Lodge.
“I wasn’t going to do that!” he said.
“And none was offered. No love lost between this pair. Even Keating and Howard had managed that ritual,’’ the book recounts.
Two years ago, Mr Albanese formed a new relationship with Jodi Haydon crediting the couple’s strong “friendship” to the success of the relationship.
“It’s still a relatively new relationship because of the time we inevitably spend apart,” Mr Albanese said in a separate interview on Sky News this year.
“My life is one where I’m not in a new relationship spending that intense time that you would normally spend, I’m away a lot in parliament or with work.”
Ms Haydon, 43, campaigned with Mr Albanese and was front and centre on election night when the Labor leader claimed victory.
Earlier this year, she told Women’s Weekly she didn’t realise how strong her feelings for Mr Albanese were until he was involved in a life-threatening car crash.
“I saw the mess of a car before I saw him and thought, ‘He couldn’t survive this,’” Ms Haydon said.
“It was very scary, and in that moment, you realise just how much you love this person, the fear of losing them.”
Victory: The inside story of Labor’s return to power by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, published by HarperCollins. Out Oct 5.