Albanese’s leftie leanings are an albatross around his neck


The click bait that draws us to one website or another inevitably relies on colour, conflict and confrontation. We’re our own worst enemy in that sense.

We will have to wait a few months to see how the dust settles.

From Labor’s position things are pretty grim. They lost the unloseable election. There will be lots of nastiness internally. Those who took policy leads that led to the train smash will have lost credibility. This time around whatever they suggest will be viewed cautiously. If you are a marginal seat holder you will be unlikely to readily believe whatever mantra is handed down from on high. Those at the top rarely take responsibility and admit their failings to those considered junior. Everyone, however, knows who messed up.

Labor might, just might, realise the level of trust they threw away with the “Mediscare” campaign in 2016. People who voted because they thought Labor was going to protect them realised it was all a big lie. That was bad enough. Then Labor went after them. Ouch.

Bill Shorten may have been the leader they wanted, but that only confirms for them and us how out of touch their party room was and probably still is.

On the Coalition side there’ll be lots of back-slapping. The euphoria might be cooling off a bit but having a win not predicted by the Canberra bubble, while inevitably invigorating, has risks. Overconfidence is the most likely. The joyous thought “we won” is wonderfully inclusive. Nobody wins without a team. The reality, however, is that Scott Morrison won this.

I wrote here last year that Morrison had more mettle than many realised and it was too early to write him off. His energy, authenticity and determination proved to be the powerful toolkit I predicted here in April. He now has more authority than anyone since and perhaps including Howard. He could win more seats next time. But (there’s always a but) next time around ScoMo won’t be facing a guy that is almost universally disliked. Quite the opposite.

Anthony Albanese has the authenticity Shorten lacked. He knows this will be his only chance at the top job and is likely therefore to have the energy and enthusiasm that ScoMo put into it.

Both before and when I was our ambassador in Italy I had some dealings with him. He has a pragmatic, very likeable down-to-earth personality. You won’t find him sucking up to celebrities introducing himself as Australia’s next prime minister, as Shorten did. (Not that by the look on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face it was a successful suck up.)

So Labor has a much more credible leader. But they’re stuck with the same problems. Their left wants to go left. They stupidly think calling their ideas progressive covers over the age-old class war rubbish. The right can see the centre is where they need to be. This may be a very difficult path for Albo to navigate. The albatross around Albo’s neck may well be his own left leanings and leftie mates.

One thing they need to do is be honest with themselves as to who they really are. They like to portray the Coalition as racists. With an immigration intake such as ours it’s a ludicrous claim. Who had a leader in the NSW election stirring up anti-Chinese sentiment? Who had a would-be deputy prime minister publicly raising concerns about Indians running a big project in Australia?

The Liberal prime minister Harold Holt effectively dismantled the White Australia policy, leaving Gough Whitlam to finish the job. Labor is really only proud of its whitewashed history. Remember it was a Liberal, George Brandis, who so civilly and viscerally sorted out Pauline Hanson after her insulting burqa stunt.

Labor markets itself as the party for LGBTQI Australians. Yet, in government for six years they not only did nothing, they expressly rejected gay marriage. It was a Liberal government that delivered.

The electorate have cottoned on to all this spin. They see a lot of pent-up hatred in Labor. Albo has a job ahead of him.

Underestimating leaders has proved unwise.

Amanda Vanstone is a regular columnist and a former Coalition minister.

Amanda Vanstone is a former Howard government minister, and regular columnist.

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