POLITICS

Anthony Albanese On Finding His Estranged Father In Italy

'It took my breath away'.

23/08/2016 7:51 PM AEST | Updated August 24, 2016 05:52

Labor MP Anthony Albanese has spoken about the emotional journey of finding his Italian father, after growing up believing he had died in a car accident.

Speaking to the ABC's 7:30 ahead of his autobiography's release, the Member for Grayndler revealed how Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry helped track his estranged father down decades on.

Albanese grew up in public housing in Sydney's inner west with his mother, Maryanne, who told him she'd met his father overseas, married him, and when she returned to Australia his father died in a car accident.

But when he was about 14 years old, Albanese's mother built up the courage to tell him the true story. Maryanne had met his father overseas on a cruise, fallen pregnant, and when she told him he admitted he was "betrothed to someone" in Italy.

"I think she was very concerned that I would feel somehow less about her," Albanese said on the program on Tuesday night.

"I think that whole guilt associated with having a child out of wedlock in 1963 as a young Catholic woman was a big deal. Hence, the extent to which she had gone to in terms of adopting my father's name, she wore an engagement and wedding ring."

ABC's 7:30
Anthony Albanese opens up to Leigh Sales on ABC's 7:30 on Monday night about discovering the father he had never met.

Albanese didn't want to track down his father until his mother passed away in 2002.

"There was a particular time where we were visiting my mother's grave when [my son] Nathan was a little boy and he said, 'Where is your daddy?'" Albanese told the ABC.

"At that moment it hit me that I had a responsibility to him as well. He carried the name, Albanese, and to find out more about my father."

With only a photo of Maryanne on the ship with his father, who was working as a steward at the time, the Labor MP realised the ship was bought by Sitmar, then P&O followed by Carnival Australia.

Fortunately, Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry was a friend of Albanese, and he asked her for assistance.

Sherry spoke to a maritime historian who discovered where the cruising company had dissolved in Genoa, and located a box in a warehouse where workplace details were left, including the address of Albanese's father, Carlo.

Sherry's call was "a moment I will never forget" said the Labor MP on the program.

"It was a very short conversation. She said, 'We have found him.' It took my breath away because I didn't think that would happen. I knew I had to pursue it then. It was very much a physical need in my gut."

Albanese wrote to Carlo and eventually travelled to Italy to meet his father through lawyers, the embassy and a cautious approach.

Discovering Carlo had in fact married the woman he told Maryanne about, Albanese also met their son and daughter, his half-siblings he never knew existed.

The visits to Italy continued until Albanese said a final goodbye during the lead up to the 2013 election as Carlo was diagnosed with cancer.

"He died in January of 2014 and I was very pleased that I was able to have that final engagement with him. He was lucid and he told me-- the last conversation we had was that he was glad that we had found each other."

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