Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has dumped Labor’s policy to overhaul franking credits while also launching an attack on Scott Morrison, in a renewed focus on the next election, which could be called later this year.
- Mr Albanese announced the party had dumped its franking credits policy
- The Labor leader also accused the Prime Minister of lacking empathy
- Liberal Minister Karen Ashford says the Opposition Leader is resorting to personal attacks rather than attacking policy
In a video conference address to Victorian Labor members this morning, Mr Albanese announced Labor would scrap the proposed changes to franking credits the party took to the 2019 election campaign.
The Opposition Leader said the policy had distracted voters from the party’s core messages.
He said that would not be the case at the next federal election, which could be called in late 2021 or early 2022.
The Coalition targeted the franking credits policy during that campaign, describing the measure as a “retiree tax”.
“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,” Mr Albanese said.
“I want the focus to be on Labor’s positive agenda for Australia’s future … a nation where people aspire to personal success, but also have aspirations for their family, their community and their nation.”
Labor’s 2019 election review identified former leader Bill Shorten’s unpopularity and a lack of political strategy as two of the causes of the party’s failure to take government.
The Coalition, which had changed its leader three times since coming to power in 2013, was widely tipped to lose the election, having fallen into minority government months out from the poll.
However, it regained majority government as Labor’s primary vote fell to 33 per cent, with sharp falls among blue-collar workers.
PM ‘lacks empathy, stands for nothing,’ Albanese says
Mr Albanese also used the video address to criticise the Prime Minister’s character, arguing Australians had judged Mr Morrison as a person who shifts blame and is a “showman who loves grand announcements, but never delivers”.
He also invoked the awkward interaction, in January 2020, between Mr Morrison and a bushfire survivor who refused to shake his hand, as evidence that Mr Morrison lacked empathy.
“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,” he said.
“That infamous visit said a lot about Scott Morrison and his lack of empathy with Australians who are doing it tough.
“When it comes to Scott Morrison, Australians have started to work him out anyway.
Albanese resorting to ‘personal attack’
Asked about Mr Albanese’s comments today, senior Liberal MP and Minister for Industry Karen Andrews said the Opposition Leader was resorting to personal attacks because he could not attack the Government’s policies.
“He can personalise his attacks as much as he wants,” Ms Andrews said.
“What that clearly demonstrates is our policies are sound [and] they are delivering for Australians.
“If you’re going to attack an individual, it’s because you can’t attack the policy.”
Mr Albanese also used the speech to criticise Mr Morrison’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and his public criticisms of Labor premiers, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during that state’s major coronavirus outbreak in October and November.
He said Labor state premiers had taken the right decisions, while the Prime Minister “campaigned” against them.
“The Liberals’ essential belief is that government should just get out of the way of markets but we know that markets have no conscience,” Mr Albanese said.
“Just as conservative values were useless during the pandemic, they also offer us little in the rebuilding phase.
“We should use the recovery to address some of the deficiencies in our society.”