Anthony Albanese’s latest speech laying out his strategy ahead of the next election has hit a welcome note with party faithful keen to see him in fight mode.
Being in opposition through a national bushfire crisis, followed by a global pandemic has necessitated bi-partisanship, Mr Albanese said, because Australians “wanted outcomes”.
But now, with wage subsidies and other temporary economic measures soon to end, and a prime minister “heading back to political conservatism”, Mr Albanese said there would be a “critical battle”.
The feedback on Mr Albanese’s speech from local members and supporters was positive, Bruce MP Julian Hill told AAP.
“Calling Scott Morrison out as a fake resonates with what I’m increasingly hearing,” he said.
“They can’t put their finger on it but they say there’s something just not quite right about him.”
More importantly, Mr Hill said, his boss’s pitch is that Labor values lend themselves better than Coalition values to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Trust in government has rebounded,” Mr Hill said.
“The times are going to suit Labor in terms of our values, our belief in a fairer society.
“The next election is going to be fought fundamentally on who’s best placed to manage the economic recovery and make sure people aren’t left behind.”
Asked about Mr Albanese’s criticism of Mr Morrison on Saturday as a “fake”, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said that personal attacks were what people did when unable to attack policy.
“Mr Albanese and Labor is desperately out there trying to become relevant,” she said.
“They need to focus on the interests of Australian people and not worry so much about having personal attacks on the prime minister.”
Speaking via video conference to members of three neighbouring Melbourne Labor electorates, Isaacs, Bruce and Dunkley, Mr Albanese said on Saturday: “Our task is to get rid of Scott Morrison by standing up for Australian values as the permanent basis for governing this great nation.”
The next election could be called as early as August, though there is no indication of Mr Morrison’s preferred timing.
Mr Albanese called his opponent a “showman who loves grand announcements but never delivers” and who many Australians see as “fake”.
“For the past year the necessity of a crisis has forced him to accept that there is a role for government intervention in the economy in the national interest,” the Opposition leader said.
“However, this concept is not part of the Liberals’ core beliefs.”
When states imposed strict lockdowns, it was Labor that suggested wage subsidies, support for renters, Medicare rebates for Telehealth all of which the government adopted, he said.
“I want to argue that just as conservative political values were useless during the pandemic, they also offer us little in the rebuilding phase,” Mr Albanese said.
Mr Albanese said the party would formally ditch the franking credits policy it took the previous federal election.
Dubbed the “retiree tax”, the policy has been blamed for the loss of votes among traditional Labor-voting blue-collar workers.