Richard Marles is an avid collector of snow globes. Hundreds of them decorate his parliamentary office in Canberra.
Over the past week, the Labor leadership has been thoroughly tipped upside down. And as the dust has settled and the picture made clear again, Marles, 51, has emerged a winner. Later this week, the Victorian MP is expected to be appointed as Labor's new deputy leader.
After Anthony Albanese, who is from the left faction in NSW, became the only nominee for the Labor leadership, this meant his deputy needed to come from the right faction and not from NSW.
This ruled out possible candidates like Tony Burke or Chris Bowen. Finance spokesperson Jim Chalmers is from Queensland and the right faction, but decided not to put his hat in the ring for either leader or deputy. Victoria's Clare O’Neil put her hand up for the deputy’s job, determined there should be a woman in the mix, but did not get the support to continue her run.
While one Labor MP described Marles' success as a "real scoot through the middle," others insist Marles has been the natural candidate for deputy all along.
"He takes things seriously that are important, even if they're not glamorous," one Labor source says, pointing to Marles' deep interest in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region.
Others say he is widely respected among Labor's caucus and is known for his consultative work-style, characteristics that will be needed as Labor rebuilds itself in the post-election period.
"His job is to hold the show together," one MP says. "To be the bridge between the caucus and the leader."
Marles' career before coming to Canberra reads like a textbook Labor CV. Raised in Geelong, he studied law at university, before a stint at law firm Slater &Gordon (where Julia Gillard once worked). He then rose through the union ranks, starting at the Transport Workers' Union and then the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
In 2006, he won a bitter preselection battle in the Geelong-based seat of Corio, and in 2007 entered Parliament as part of the Kevin07 wave. His first speech to Parliament gave shout outs to factional heavyweights Stephen Conroy, Robert Ray, David Feeney and Bill Shorten.
Marles was promoted to the front bench within two years of his election, starting out as the parliamentary secretary for innovation and industry. He was parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs in March 2013, when he was part of a group of frontbenchers who quit after a failed attempt to reinstall Kevin Rudd as leader.
When Rudd finally – and briefly – made it back as leader in July 2013, Marles was appointed trade minister.
In opposition, Marles initially had the difficult job of immigration spokesperson, before he was given the defence portfolio in 2016. There was some chatter before the election, that had Labor won, he would have been made Minister for Home Affairs.
Marles has had a largely controversy-free run in Parliament, although he made headlines in February for an interview he did with Sky News, declaring that the collapse of the global market for thermal coal was “at one level … a good thing” because it implied the world was acting on climate change. He was immediately attacked by the Coalition and forced to backtrack. On Saturday, two Queensland Labor state MPs attacked Marles's candidacy on the basis of his comments, accusing him of being anti-jobs.
While Marles has not enjoyed the public profile of other frontbenchers such as Albanese or Tanya Plibersek, he was the only Labor MP to have his own bonafide TV show. For the last few years, he had a weekly show on Sky News with Christopher Pyne (the creatively-titled "Pyne and Marles").
The show did not survive Pyne's recent political retirement.