Thus began the policies around negative gearing, franking credits, reducing tax concessions on family trusts and superannuation reforms.
The spending promises begat the revenue promises. By themselves this may have worked, but the review found this effective “Labor government from opposition” approach simply played into the hands of its opponents.
“The sheer volume of spending announcements released during the campaign created a sense of risk in the minds of the main beneficiaries of Labor’s policies – economically insecure, low-income voters – about Labor’s economic management credentials,” they found.
As an unpopular Shorten and team welcomed every interest group with a spending plan, the Coalition grappled with the result of 2016.
The rise of Clive Palmer and his anti-Shorten/anti-Labor message was overwhelming. In the final week of the campaign, Palmer’s United Australia Party ran 688 ads in Melbourne, of which 272 were clear anti-Labor ads compared to 208 that were pro-Palmer.
Ultimately, Emerson and Weatherill found a party that thought it would win without a strategy, with too many messages, headed by an unpopular leader up against an opponent it believed was just the same as the one it almost defeated in 2016.
The result was Christians and coal mining communities, Chinese Australians and Queenslanders and people aged between 25 and 34 living in outer-urban and regional areas deciding the better option was to stick with Morrison.
Emerson and Weatherill said ultimately Labor lost because it failed to get “disengaged” Australians to support it. And that failure had its roots in the near-victory of 2016.
Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.