Weak. Risky. Un­pop­u­lar.

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OFF CHAM­BERS SI­MON BEN­SON GREG BROWN

An­thony Al­banese has been granted a man­date to re­po­si­tion the La­bor Party by junk­ing un­pop­u­lar Bill Shorten-era poli­cies, drop­ping its anti-coal rhetoric and lim­it­ing big-spend­ing prom­ises to re­con­nect with vot­ers in the outer sub­urbs and re­gions.

In a damn­ing 91-page elec­tion post-mortem, party el­ders Craig Emer­son and Jay Weather­ill ex­posed a “clut­tered pol­icy agenda that looked risky” and crit­i­cised the ALP’s in­abil­ity to adapt its strat­egy to com­bat Scott Mor­ri­son as key fac­tors in its third suc­ces­sive elec­tion loss

The re­view also sounded the alarm on a frac­ture in the party’s sup­port base — be­tween work­ing peo­ple un­der eco­nomic pres­sures and those who want La­bor to ad­dress pro­gres­sive, po­lit­i­cal griev­ances. It warned “care needs to be taken to avoid La­bor be­com­ing a griev­ance-fo­cused or­gan­i­sa­tion” but also said the ALP should not aban­don its “com­mit­ment to so­cial jus­tice”.

How­ever, the re­view re­jected an over­haul of ALP val­ues and re­fused to con­demn the party’s class-war tax agenda, shift­ing blame on to a “weak strat­egy”, Bill Shorten’s un­pop­u­lar­ity and a fail­ure to sell its poli­cies.

It dis­missed the ar­gu­ment that La­bor’s frank­ing cred­its and neg­a­tive gear­ing tax poli­cies “cost the party the elec­tion” but con­ceded the “size and com­plex­ity” of the for­mer leader’s $100bn-plus spend­ing spree fu­elled anx­i­eties in re­gional and sub­ur­ban vot­ers.

Mr Al­banese, who will re­spond to the re­view in a speech at the Na­tional Press Club on Fri­day, is ex­pected to en­dorse all 26 rec­om­men­da­tions. La­bor’s Se­nate leader, Penny Wong, said the party should act on all of them.

Mr Shorten, who re­mains on the front­bench, said he would run a dif­fer­ent cam­paign if “the uni­verse (were) to grant re-runs”. “I would cam­paign with fewer mes­sages, more greatly em­pha­sise the jobs op­por­tu­ni­ties in re­new­able en­er­gies and take a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion on frank­ing cred­its,” he said.

The Prime Min­is­ter said last night the Coali­tion’s abil­ity to “speak clearly” to as­pi­ra­tional Aus­tralians was a key fac­tor in its re-elec­tion.

Mr Al­banese, a long-time ri­val of Mr Shorten, is ex­pected to use the re­view to junk un­pop­u­lar poli­cies, adopt a small-tar­get strat­egy, re­shape La­bor’s ap­proach to cli­mate change, and im­ple­ment a dig­i­tal cam­paign strat­egy that is less fo­cused on the leader.

The Aus­tralian un­der­stands Mr Al­banese will con­tinue to shift La­bor away from class-war rhetoric and em­brace a pro-jobs, pro-growth agenda, in a bid to shift the party back to the cen­tre and re­claim votes in Queens­land and West­ern Aus­tralia.

The Emer­son-Weather­ill re­port, which was leaked to The Aus­tralian ahead of its re­lease, also crit­i­cised La­bor’s “am­bigu­ous lan­guage on Adani” and anti-coal rhetoric, which trig­gered record swings against the ALP in re­gional Queens­land and the Hunter Val­ley in NSW.

It found Chi­nese-Aus­tralians, Chris­tians, Queens­lan­ders, re­gional com­mu­ni­ties, low-in­come and outer-sub­ur­ban vot­ers swung strongly against La­bor, while ter­tiary-ed­u­cated, higher-in­come Aus­tralians swung strongly to the ALP.

De­spite con­cerns from La­bor MPs that it can­not win back seats in the re­sources states un­less it over­hauls its ap­proach to cli­mate change, the re­view held the line on the key pol­icy is­sue.

While high­light­ing the ALP’s in­abil­ity to “ef­fec­tively dis­cuss the cost of not act­ing on cli­mate change or the job op­por­tu­ni­ties a

Bill Shorten’s un­pop­u­lar­ity con­trib­uted to the elec­tion loss

BILL SHORTEN

Care needs to be taken to avoid La­bor be­com­ing a griev­ance-fo­cused or­gan­i­sa­tion

TANYA PLIBERSEK

La­bor’s poli­cies on neg­a­tive gear­ing and frank­ing cred­its ... ex­posed La­bor to a Coali­tion at­tack

CHRIS BOWEN

La­bor should po­si­tion it­self as a party of eco­nomic growth and re­form, job cre­ation and ris­ing liv­ing stan­dards – CAM­PAIGN RE­VIEW

tran­si­tion to a re­new­able en­ergy fu­ture could bring”, the re­view said “a mod­ern La­bor Party can­not ne­glect hu­man-in­duced cli­mate change”.

“To do so would be en­vi­ron­men­tally ir­re­spon­si­ble and a clear elec­toral li­a­bil­ity,” it said.

“La­bor needs to in­crease pub­lic aware­ness of the costs of in­ac­tion on cli­mate change, re­spect the role of work­ers in fos­sil fuel in­dus­tries and sup­port job op­por­tu­ni­ties in emis­sions-re­duc­ing in­dus­tries while tak­ing the pres­sure off elec­tric­ity prices.”

The re­view said La­bor’s cli­mate change pol­icy won the party “votes among young and af­flu­ent older vot­ers in ur­ban ar­eas”.

Mr Shorten, who be­lieves the re­view un­fairly fo­cused on his un­pop­u­lar­ity, re­ceived a brief­ing from Dr Emer­son and Mr Weather­ill on Thurs­day morn­ing be­fore the re­view’s re­lease.

He blamed Clive Palmer and the Lib­eral Party for tar­nish­ing “my pub­lic stand­ing” and said the elec­tion was not a “land­slide”.

Mr Weather­ill, a for­mer South Aus­tralian pre­mier, de­nied be­ing pres­sured to wa­ter down crit­i­cism of Mr Shorten, declar­ing he had al­ways be­lieved the for­mer leader’s un­pop­u­lar­ity was “part of the story”. “We ar­rived at a con­sci­en­tious view based on the ev­i­dence that Bill’s lead­er­ship made a con­tri­bu­tion to the loss, not the only con­tri­bu­tion, but part of the story,” Mr Weather­ill said.

Dr Emer­son said Mr Shorten had been “car­pet bombed by Clive Palmer and quite a lot of money from the Coali­tion who tar­geted him very hard”.

The for­mer trade min­is­ter said La­bor needed to win more votes in West­ern Aus­tralia, Queens­land and in the re­gions. “La­bor can’t just be a city-cen­tric party,” Dr Emer­son said.

Mr Weather­ill said he had urged against La­bor wa­ter­ing down its cli­mate change ac­tion am­bi­tion, declar­ing it should be a “bedrock prin­ci­ple” that “can­not be aban­doned”. “The La­bor Party must con­tinue to stand for strong ac­tion on cli­mate change,” he said.

He added La­bor must do bet­ter at “knit­ting the con­stituen­cies” of work­ing-class peo­ple and in­nercity pro­gres­sives.

Mr Mor­ri­son ac­cused La­bor of be­ing in de­nial about the poli­cies it took to the elec­tion, sug­gest­ing the op­po­si­tion “spoke down” to its tra­di­tional base. “We, I be­lieve, spoke very clearly to the as­pi­ra­tions of Aus­tralians … Aus­tralians have an ir­re­pres­sive op­ti­mism and I don’t think (La­bor) un­der­stand that,” he told Sky News.

The re­view re­vealed polling had led La­bor to be­lieve it was “slightly ahead, when it was, in fact, be­hind”.

La­bor deputy leader Richard Mar­les con­ceded the ALP had lost its base by fail­ing to be “clearer” in its mes­sag­ing about how the party sought to run the coun­try and man­age the econ­omy.

Mr Mar­les ad­mit­ted he made “some pretty clumsy com­ments” about coal ahead of the elec­tion, which he de­scribed as “tone deaf”.

La­bor needed to tell min­ing com­mu­ni­ties that “coal and fos­sil fu­els” will con­tinue to “play a part in the Aus­tralian econ­omy for a long time to come”

AN­THONY AL­BANESE

Palmer

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