Albanese ditches election-losing policy
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will officially ditch the controversial franking credits policy Labor took to the last election when he addresses grassroots party members in Melbourne today.
Mr Albanese intends to use his livestreamed speech to outline Labor's path to victory at the next election, which could happen in the second half of 2021 or early 2022.
He will cite the lessons learned from Labor's review of its 2019 defeat.
"The review identified the need for focusing on our future positive agenda, but also that voters were distracted from that by issues including franking credits," Mr Albanese will say.
"I can confirm that Labor has heard that message clearly, and that we will not be taking any changes to franking credits to the next election.
"I want the focus to be on Labor's positive agenda for Australia's future."
Many in the party believe the franking credits policy, labelled a "retiree tax" by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was a key factor in Bill Shorten's failure to win power.
In his response to the review in November of 2019, Mr Shorten conceded the issue had hurt Labor's campaign.
"There are many players on a team, but as captain of that team I accept responsibility for the policies taken to the election," Mr Shorten said.
"We must learn the lessons of defeat. And while the review has not considered or reviewed the merit of those policies, it is important that the party does.
"Were the universe to grant re-runs, I would campaign with fewer messages, more greatly emphasise the job opportunities in renewable energies, and take a different position on franking credits."
When he became leader, Mr Albanese said he would not take the same policy to the next election. His promise today, to not make "any changes" to franking credits, is a step up.
It does come at a cost. Labor's 2019 policy was expected to recoup roughly $6 billion in lost revenue each year, theoretically funding some of the party's spending.
Mr Albanese's speech will also feature an extended, personal attack on the Prime Minister, branding Mr Morrison as "a man who stands for nothing except advertising campaigns, selfies and favours for Liberal mates".
"Scott Morrison is a showman who loves grand announcements but never delivers," he'll say.
"He is always there for the photo op, but never there for the follow-up."
The Labor leader will criticise Mr Morrison's leadership during the pandemic, particularly his treatment of the state premiers.
"The Prime Minister made much of his stewardship of the so-called National Cabinet during the pandemic.
"Whenever state premiers had success in the fight against the pandemic, Mr Morrison claimed it was a product of his own.
"But if anything went wrong, he just blamed the states. Border wars, selectively attacking premiers - Australians wanted co-operation, but got political posturing.
"The Prime Minister even refused to take responsibility for the aged care system, even as coronavirus was sweeping through nursing homes - 685 aged care residents died. That is a tragedy. Yet he still refuses to accept responsibility."
Looking further back, to last summer's bushfire crisis, Mr Albanese will remind Labor members of Mr Morrison's visit to Cobargo, where he was berated by furious locals.
"As the nation burned and our cities were choked by smoke, Mr Morrison's only focus was photo opportunities where, understandably, many people saw straight through him and refused to shake his hand."
And he'll bring up the sports rorts scandal, in which the government was accused of funnelling taxpayer dollars into seats it needed to win at the last election, instead of awarding the funds based on merit.
"The Prime Minister is only interested in accountability if it involves a chance to get on the news. That's why no one has paid any real price for the shameful sports rorts episode.
"Scott Morrison uses taxpayer dollars as though they are the money of the Liberal Party, and he doesn't even understand why that is wrong."
Though a significant chunk of the speech will focus on condemning the Prime Minister, Mr Albanese also plans to argue that a positive agenda will be the key to winning government.
"To win the next election, we need to do more than highlight the current government's deficiencies," he'll say.
"And when it comes to Scott Morrison, I think Australians have started to work him out anyway. They see him as fake. As someone who is always political and always looking to shift blame to others.
"Labor's path to victory is a set of policies that can deliver an economic recovery while adhering to the egalitarian impulse that so characterised 2020.
"I said, in receiving the election review, that Labor would be back as the party of growth, the party of aspiration, the party of social justice, the party of nation building, the party of our natural environment, the party of science and the party of the future.
"The experience of the pandemic has confirmed the importance of government, but more importantly, that Australians do want to look after our common interest.
"Our task is to ensure that whether the election is in late 2021 or early 2022, Labor is able to form government and take Australia in a direction which is as caring, courageous, optimistic and determined as the Australian people have shown themselves to be in 2020."
Originally published as Albanese ditches election-losing policy