This is part of a two piece special written by friends of Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison. You can read Karen Harrington’s article on Morrison here.
It was in early 1982 that the 470 bus to the University of Sydney stopped in front of the old Children’s Hospital in Camperdown. A skinny young guy in a jean jacket came on board whom I vaguely recognized from campus. We started talking and he introduced himself simply as “Albo”.
We have much in common. We were both working-class teenagers from the inner city. My father worked at the Children’s Hospital as a guard and Albo’s mother, Maryanne, was a disability pensioner whose town hall was across the street from the hospital.
We bonded over our similar politics and musical tastes, following up-and-coming bands like Hunters and Collectors and the Oils. A few months later, after a memorable concert at Selina’s in Coogee Bay, we slept on the beach after missing the last bus back to town. We also share a certain affinity that comes from attending a prestigious Sandstone college in circumstances where we were the first in our respective families to finish high school. Uni life introduced us to a weird and wonderful variety of characters and ideas.
Albo was good at building friendships that often turned into alliances. There has always been a quality about him that people trust and people are willing to invest in. Many of the friends Albo met during those early days are still close to him today.
Albo became a frequent visitor to my sprawling share house. It was a dilapidated gentlemen’s residence in Enmore, owned by an absentee landlord in Melbourne. He had a pool table in the living room that was the center of a vibrant social scene where many of the world’s problems were solved, at least in theory.
In the years that followed I was welcomed into Albo’s family by his mother, Maryanne. To understand Anthony Albanese, you need to know a little about Maryanne, who continues to be a powerful influence in her son’s life. The relationship between Anthony and Maryanne was the closest I have ever seen between father and son. They were all they had for each other, and Anthony’s devotion to his mother was deepened by her disability. Both hands were paralyzed with severe arthritis from the age of 30, making even simple tasks like opening a can nearly impossible.
Maryanne was in and out of the hospital for surgery. Most of the knuckles on both of her hands were replaced with prosthetics. She obviously suffered enormous pain, and yet in all my years of knowing her, she never complained about it. Maryanne was always warm and welcoming. She was the type of person who only saw the best in other people.