La­bor’s pain as vot­ers wish left war­riors would GetUp and go

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OFF CHAM­BERS GREG BROWN

The La­bor Party is frac­tur­ing in­ter­nally un­der pres­sure from left­wing ac­tivists and the cen­tre-right Coali­tion as the Aus­tralian pub­lic drifts away from ide­o­log­i­cal an­ti­min­ing protests and GetUp’s pro­gres­sive so­cial agenda.

An­thony Albanese was forced to shut down in­ter­nal di­vi­sion in his par­ty­room on Tues­day af­ter op­po­si­tion MPs spoke against Scott Mor­ri­son’s farm van­dals leg­is­la­tion, telling col­leagues “ve­gan ter­ror­ists” do not re­flect La­bor’s sup­port base.

The lat­est clash over La­bor’s fu­ture agenda fol­lows months of splits in­side the party over its poli­cies on mining, taxes, so­cial re­forms, cli­mate change, bor­der pro­tec­tion and ap­proach to China, with Mr Albanese declar­ing the ALP needed to em­brace change to avoid an­other de­feat at the next elec­tion.

“If you do the same thing in pol­i­tics you can ex­pect the same out­come,” he said.

Victorian Left fac­tion MPs Kim Carr and Ged Kear­ney called on the party to open up a fight on the farm in­vaders leg­is­la­tion, which they claimed could have un­in­tended con­se­quences, in­clud­ing pre­vent­ing me­dia and union of­fi­cials from at­tend­ing farms. La­bor MP Ju­lian Hill also urged le­gal af­fairs spokesman Mark Drey­fus to ad­dress con­cerns raised in the par­ty­room.

As La­bor strug­gles to present a co­her­ent pol­icy plat­form and stay fo­cused on its at­tacks on the gov­ern­ment over the econ­omy, new polling ob­tained by The Aus­tralian re­veals vot­ers are turn­ing on GetUp and anti-mining ac­tivists.

Lib­eral Party polling con­ducted shortly af­ter the May 18 elec­tion in­di­cated a grow­ing num­ber of vot­ers were hard­en­ing their op­po­si­tion to GetUp’s claim of “in­de­pen­dence”.

The polling, based on a sam­ple size of 2000 vot­ers across the na­tion, re­vealed 50 per cent of Aus­tralians re­garded GetUp — which also ran cam­paigns against coalmin­ing and Adani — as work­ing ei­ther mostly or en­tirely in the in­ter­ests of La­bor and the Greens.

The Lib­eral Party data showed that, even among La­bor and Greens vot­ers, only 22 and 30 per cent of sup­port­ers re­spec­tively be­lieved the left-wing ac­tivist group was “fully in­de­pen­dent”.

Post-elec­tion re­search re­leased by the Min­er­als Coun­cil of Aus­tralia to­day also high­lights a surge in sup­port for the sec­tor, which con­tin­ues to drive the

econ­omy, with favoura­bil­ity for mining grow­ing six points since March and net sup­port up to 55 per cent across the na­tion.

Op­po­si­tion to mining, a cen­tral cam­paign is­sue in Queens­land where La­bor slumped to a dis­as­trous elec­tion re­sult, also dropped to its low­est level in re­cent years, down from 13 per cent in March to 10 per cent in July.

Mr Albanese, crit­i­cised in­ter­nally over his sup­port last week for a Tamil fam­ily fac­ing de­por­ta­tion, told col­leagues “we are not the Lib­eral Party, we are not the Greens”.

Fol­low­ing speeches from ALP na­tional pres­i­dent Wayne Swan and La­bor front­bencher Mark But­ler in the past week — who clashed over the need to change the party’s un­pop­u­lar eco­nomic poli­cies — La­bor MPs ex­pressed con­cern the party was rolling over too of­ten on leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment’s $158bn in­come tax pack­age.

Sen­a­tor Wong, a Left fac­tion power­bro­ker, slammed sug­ges­tions La­bor should be con­cerned about per­cep­tions it was too quick to “ca­pit­u­late” to the gov­ern­ment on leg­is­la­tion, telling the par­ty­room: “The ar­gu­ment we are ca­pit­u­lat­ing is a Greens tac­tic and we must take it on.”

The gov­ern­ment’s bill tar­get­ing farm van­dals, which has al­ready passed through the lower house, is ex­pected to pass through the Se­nate this week, with La­bor mov­ing amend­ments but not op­pos­ing the leg­is­la­tion.

Eight La­bor MPs spoke in favour of the bill, in­clud­ing front­benchers Sen­a­tor Wong, Joel Fitzgib­bon and Cather­ine King.

Op­po­si­tion NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten said La­bor did not have a choice but to sup­port the bill: “There are a lot of farm­ers out there who feel anx­ious that some­how their liveli­hoods are be­ing tar­geted by mil­i­tant protesters.”

As new polling shows Aus­tralians hard­en­ing in their sen­ti­ment against anti-mining ac­tivists and GetUp, Mr Shorten yes­ter­day de­clared he was “proud” of the poli­cies he took to the elec­tion but con­ceded “change was in­evitable”.

The for­mer La­bor leader would not name poli­cies that needed to be re­con­sid­ered but de­clared the party must show the pub­lic it had learnt the lessons of the elec­tion.

“We didn’t get enough votes at the last elec­tion so some change is in­evitable and I think if La­bor didn’t change some of its point of view then that would be show­ing we didn’t learn the lessons from the elec­tion,” Mr Shorten said.

Lib­eral Party fed­eral di­rec­tor An­drew Hirst said more Aus­tralian vot­ers were hard­en­ing their views on GetUp, whose claims of in­de­pen­dence were at­tacked by Scott Mor­ri­son last month.

“It’s good to see a grow­ing num­ber of Aus­tralians see GetUp for what it re­ally is — the cam­paign arm of the La­bor Party and the Greens. GetUp claims to be in­de­pen­dent but it only ever cam­paigns against Coali­tion MPs and govern­ments,” Mr Hirst told The Aus­tralian.

Min­er­als Coun­cil chief executive Ta­nia Con­sta­ble said the ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralians were “back­ing mining and re­gional com­mu­ni­ties in­stead of a noisy mi­nor­ity of ac­tivists”. She ref­er­enced protests in Bris­bane where cli­mate protesters glued them­selves to roads, caus­ing dis­rup­tion in the CBD.

“While ac­tivists block city streets and bully and in­tim­i­date re­sources com­pa­nies and their sup­pli­ers with ex­treme tac­tics, the quiet Aus­tralians are get­ting on with their lives while recog­nis­ing the value and im­por­tance of Aus­tralian mining,” Ms Con­sta­ble told The Aus­tralian.

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