Labor faces a potential leadership stoush ahead of next year's federal election after Anthony Albanese fired the starting gun on a challenge for Bill Shorten's top job, the coalition says.
Labor has emphatically denied any rift between the pair, who last went head to head for the role of federal opposition leader in the 2013 leadership ballot.
The speculation was fuelled when Mr Albanese delivered the Whitlam Oration on the New South Wales South Coast on Friday night, in which he set out an agenda for reforming the party and broadening the party's appeal to non-unionists and the business sector.
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Labor has denied there are tensions between party leader Bill Shorten (left) and Anthony Albanese
'Labor doesn't have to agree with business on issues such as company tax rates, but we do have to engage constructively with business large and small,' he said.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne said Mr Albanese had directly contradicted Mr Shorten's 'war with business' approach and placement of unions at the centre of public policy.
'Anthony Albanese has fired the starter gun on the Labor Party leadership contest,' Mr Pyne said in Adelaide.
The cabinet minister said Mr Shorten's leadership had failed.
'We know where it's going to end, it will end in a ballot of the Labor Party membership and the caucus, and the sooner Bill Shorten gets on with it the better,' Mr Pyne said.
'Anthony Albanese has fired the starter gun on the Labor Party leadership contest,' Liberal minister Christopher Pyne (pictured) said
Labor faces a potential leadership battle between Anthony Albanese and current leader Bill Shorten (pictured together)
'We've never been stronger and