A show of Labor unity as Rudd and Gillard try to bury the hatchet for the greater good

No one is pretending the pair are now best friends, but having them peacefully co-exist in the same room showed voters that perhaps they have at least moved on.


Sunday’s launch kicked off to the (recorded) sounds of Brisbane band The Go-Betweens and a passionate plea from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for Queensland to “vote them out”.

The party faithful dutifully rose to their feet for every speaker, from reconciliation leader and indigenous affairs spokesman Patrick Dodson to shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong – who tried her hand at comedy with barbs at Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton.

Bill Shorten laid out tributes to his predecessors: Keating for his economic reforms, Rudd for his apology to the stolen generations and Gillard for the royal commission into child sexual abuse within institutions.

Missing from the roll call of former Labor prime ministers was Bob Hawke, now 89, who was watching the event on television at home. “We are going to do this for you,” Shorten pledged to Labor’s longest-serving PM.


Shorten was introduced by his wife Chloe, one of several women who took to the stage to emphasise Labor’s commitment to gender equality – still perceived as a weak spot for the Coalition despite Scott Morrison’s promotion of new women into his cabinet.

The opposition leader also goaded the government with references to Malcolm Turnbull – “a name you’ll only hear at a Labor event” – who is sitting out the campaign in New York.

Shorten said Morrison had made himself a “hostage” to Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer by trading preferences, and found his stride on climate change, declaring: “We will stand our ground, we will fight hard, we will defy the pseudo-science and the scare campaigns.”

Shorten left the stage to Jimmy Barnes’ No Second Prize. There is no second prize in life, Barnes tells us – and there isn’t one in politics either, as Shorten knows only too well.


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