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Labor Learns its Lesson

In an interview with ABC Business reporter Elysse Morgan on Wednesday, former Labor Minister and the current chair of Industry Super, Greg Combet, said that Labor lost the election because it neglected wealth creation and economic reform and focused too much on wealth redistribution. He echoed the view of many Labor members that the party needs to get back to promoting jobs and growth.

In another dose of realism, Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk indicated that she wanted the Adani approvals process accelerated and that she was authorising her Co-ordinator-General to oversee the reviews for the Adani coal project saying both she and the community were "fed up" with waiting for the department to approve the Indian mining company's environmental management plans.

As well as these signs of change, Labor appears to be adjusting its views on religious protection legislation. In announcing his withdrawal from the Labor leadership contest, Chris Bowen made a point of saying that people of faith had expressed concern yohim that Labor was not doing enough to protect their right to express their beliefs.

The fact that parliamentary leaders like Penny Wong, Tony Burke and Joel Fitzgibbon have backed Anthony Albanese is an indication that there is a move to shift policy back to the centre.

In the circumstances it is disappointing that the interim leader of the party, Bill Shorten, has hit the phones to try and stop Albanese becoming leader. His intervention has been so egregious that Penny Wong had to slap him down by saying:

“Albo is the outstanding parliamentarian of our generation. He's shown that in his previous capacity as leader of the House, and he's shown that he can work with people across the Parliament to achieve the outcomes that benefit working people."

Senator Wong commented that intervention by Bill Shorten would be inconsistent with party unity. "I would be surprised if that were occurring," she said. "I'd be surprised because it's not consistent with the role he now has and I'd be surprised because it would potentially undermine the very unity he has been part of developing and building in opposition."

Labor has a lot of work to do in recalibrating its policies and it cannot allow this process to be interrupted by fighting past battles. This will be a challenge when the taxation legislation makes it into the Parliament. The hard heads in the Labor party believe that the Coalition’s tax cuts should be waved through, including the tax cuts for high income earners, rather than forcing the party to suffer the ignomy of refusing voters tax cuts they voted for.

However if there is a Labor leadership contest, Bill Shorten will be the party leader when these bills come into the House and there are signs that he is reluctant to repudiate his policy approach of taxing ‘the big end of town’. Viewed from this perspective the best outcome for the Labor party would be for Albo to assume the leadership unopposed and immediately.


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