In a warning to interest groups that pressure Labor to adopt their agenda, Mr Albanese agreed with a key finding that too many supporters “banked the win” at the May poll without fighting hard enough to ensure a victory.
The Opposition Leader vowed to scale back the Labor policy platform at a national conference in Canberra in December 2020 in a commitment that could trigger fights with unions, environmentalists and other interest groups that want the platform to reflect their demands.
Mr Albanese cited the divisions within Labor over a long period, dating to the governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, to declare that “self-reflection” should stop as soon as possible and the culture of the party should change to position it to win the next election.
“You have to change the culture and the behaviour within, and I intend to do that,” he said. “I intend to do that with vigour and energy – try and keep up with me.”
Mr Albanese pledged to change the “substance” of his party and its policies in the lead-up to the next federal election.
“I’m not interested in just changing the appearance of the party and its policies – I’m going to change their substance,” he said.
He outlined themes that would provide the bedrock to policy development. They included jobs and a strong economy that worked for people, better education, health care, work conditions and treatment of senior Australians, productivity-boosting infrastructure and climate change action that created jobs.
As well, Labor’s foreign policy would remain based on the three policy pillars of “support for multilateralism, regional engagement as well as the US alliance”.
Mr Albanese outlined his “renewal” project for the party, which started with the review released on Thursday.
“The second stage – vision – will see the release of a series of vision statements that will map out the new directions our policies will be heading in,” he said. “They began last week and will continue up to the May budget.”
The new Labor platform would be debated and rewritten at the 2020 national conference. And policy would be released over the course of the term “but particularly closer to the election”, he said.
The review by party elders Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill criticised Labor’s election campaign for overwhelming and scaring voters with an enormous and complex policy offering. The post-mortem also found the campaign lacked strategy and failed to address then-leader Bill Shorten’s unpopularity.
Mr Albanese paid tribute to Mr Shorten in his speech.
“We know the outcome was not due to a lack of effort and I do want to pay tribute to the extraordinary commitment of Bill Shorten, who worked so hard each and every day for six years to return Labor to government,” he said. “Bill was determined to offer hope and genuine reform to benefit all those who depend upon a Labor government.”
I’m not interested in just changing the appearance of the party and its policies – I’m going to change their substance.
Frontbencher Stephen Jones earlier said Prime Minister Scott Morrison “got lucky in 2019” and wouldn’t find Labor making the same mistakes next time around.
“My analysis goes something like this – I think we ran a pretty good opposition over the last three or four years but ran a pretty bad campaign,” he told Sky News. “I think the government is the opposite – they ran a pretty hopeless government and a pretty good campaign.”
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.