• Hannah Phillips

Albo’s Speech is not a Leadership Bid Yet

Last weekend a Reachtel/Australia Institute poll of the electors in Longman showed that the situation was neck and neck with Labor and the Coalition polling 50% each on a two party preferred basis.

This is seen as an explanation for the tone of Anthony Albanese’s Gough Whitlam oration which was implicitly critical of Labor leader Bill Shorten and the approach that Labor was taking to the by-elections.

Albanese reserved his direct criticism for Malcolm Turnbull who he accused of adopting a divisive approach of setting business and the government against unions.

He made the point that the Hawke and Keating governments had worked to establish a consensus between workers and employers which was now being undermined.

“That’s the approach of the best Labor governments. Our job is not to sow discord. It is to bring people together in the service of the national interest,” he said.

Image source: Toby Hudson

“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.

“We respect and celebrate the importance of individual enterprise and the efforts and importance of the business community.”

There can be no doubt that this statement is directed at the current approach of the Labor opposition which Anthony Albanese sees as misconceived.

He also differentiated himself from Shorten Labor by adopting the Liberal credo of aspiration albeit in a different form from that espoused by Malcolm Turnbull.

“The key to an effective plan for government is an understanding of the aspirations of our fellow Australians,” he said.

“We in Labor must always ask ourselves, ‘what do Australians want out of life and how can we help them achieve it?’”

The question is whether this is a play for leadership of the Labor Party.

The answer is: probably not immediately.

His preference is for Labor to change its tone to a more inclusive one if they want to win the next election.

Albo is aware that the Tony Abbott approach of bludgeoning the government can help win elections but it destroys any chance of establishing broad electoral support when you are in government.

He understands that ideology can paralyse a government and he wants none of it.

If Shorten loses the federal election then there’s no doubt that Anthony Albanese will challenge him for leadership however union control and factionalism will probably mean that he remains in the wings.

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