• Hannah Phillips

Back-Flipping Can be Expensive


When Bill Shorten arrived at the NSW Labor conference there were rumours that the NSW branch, which is dominated by the right wing, might shift its support from Shorten to NSW left wing leader Anthony Albanese.


Graham Richardson had said as much.

Shorten supporters had started calling Albanese the News Corporation candidate for Labor leadership because the influential ‘Daily Telegraph’ was promoting his cause.

It was time for the Opposition Leader to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

In a speech to the annual state conference, held at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday, Bill Shorten announced that a federal Labor government would provide $6 billion in infrastructure funding for the Sydney Metro West project and the railway line from Badgery’s Creek airport to the city.

Both these projects are close to Mr Albanese’s heart and he’s been promoting them as his own initiatives.

Bill Shorten has now appropriated the Albanese projects and appointed himself the infrastructure go-to guy for NSW.

“If I’m Prime Minister, my government will do our part, we’ll put in our share of the money to make Metro West a reality,” Mr Shorten told the conference.

“We have a responsibility to make sure these communities remain great places to live, work and raise your kids.”

He took aim at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s values, promising the crowd that, if elected, he would reverse penalty rate cuts which took effect on Sunday.

“Your penalty rates matter to me just as much as the Prime Minister’s giveaway to the banks matters to him,” Mr Shorten said. “That’s where the other fellow and I are different.”

The use of the term ‘the other fellow’ could equally have applied to Mr Albanese who is accused by Shorten supporters of being soft on business.

The federal Labor leader is aware that the polls are not running in his favour in Longman and Braddon.

A mid-week Reachtel poll had the Coalition ahead 51% to 49% in Longman and Labor insiders say the position is worse in Braddon.

Bill Shorten is continuing populist push to gain support from low income workers.

“I want to send a message to everyone who is spending today washing dishes, or cleaning hotel rooms or stacking shelves. I know you’re working today because you need the money ... And we believe you should be paid fairly for your time.”

On Sunday the ACTU secretary, Sally McManus, was scathing about the cuts, labelling them as “wrong” and unfair. She said they will not only hurt working people but also harm the economy.

“We are going backwards as a country,” McManus told reporters in Melbourne.

“The last thing we need is for some of our hardest-working, lowest-paid workers to be dealt out penalty rate pay cuts.

“That is a cut they don’t deserve and can’t afford, coming at a time when working families are struggling with the costs of living.”

McManus said the rate cuts take effect on the same day the Prime Minister and his ministers get pay rises of up to $10,000 each.

It’s clear that the Labor movement is determined to continue the theme of class warfare that’s supported by Bill Shorten and the unions but opposed by Anthony Albanese.

The fact that the Labor leader was forced by his own shadow cabinet to back-flip on his promise to repeal tax cuts for companies with turnovers between $10 million and $50 million, is a signal that, if Labor loses seats in the by-election, the Albanese approach may gain some traction.

Monday morning’s Newspoll included a survey on corporate tax policy.

It showed that a majority of electors favoured tax cuts for businesses with turnovers of between $10 million and $50 million and that they were evenly divided on tax cuts for businesses with turnovers of more than $50 million.

A majority of voters believed that corporate tax cuts would create more employment.

Want to know more? Subscribe to Inside Canberra