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Australia is on fire, the economy is tanking and Labor is still losing in the polls

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Caricatures courtesy Bruce Keogh / keoghcartoons.com.au

Despite the fact that the country is on fire, Sydney and much of the East Coast has been blanketed with smoke in recent days and the economy is tanking, the Coalition are somehow significantly ahead in the polls.

For progressive Australians, the last seven months have been like a horrible nightmare from which they have been unable to wake, as things have consistently found a way to go from bad to worse with each passing day.

The greatly prophesied leadership of Anthony Albanese has so far proven to be at best a dud and at worst a gift that keeps on giving for the Morrison Government.

The latest Newspoll has Labor more than four points behind the Coalition (52-48), which at first doesn’t sound too bad with a Government still in its "honeymoon" period. But when you put that figure into context it becomes increasingly clear that things are going quite poorly for the Labor Party.

The reality is it should all be going wrong for the Morrison Government, since, among other things:

And yet, the Coalition are somehow significantly ahead in the polls.

When you put it into context it’s all feels like a bit of a joke. What else needs to go cataclysmically wrong, for Albanese and the Labor Party to finally begin to look favourable when contrasted with the rudderless Morrison government?

Despite the Morrison government taking every opportunity to shoot itself in the foot with scandal after scandal and a series of poor decisions by the Prime Minister, Labor has about as much traction as a s***box car with bald tires does in a rainstorm.

One would imagine that after ignoring the repeated warnings of 21 former fire and emergency services chiefs that this year’s bushfire season could be disastrous due to the impact of the drought and climate change, Morrison would be paying dearly for this mistake.

But instead, the Morrison Government continues to effectively run riot, as the Labor Opposition is still trying to work out exactly what went wrong at the election.

While up until recently Labor had managed to display an enviable degree of unity in the face of defeat, recently that veneer of harmony has begun to crack as MP’s increasingly pursue ideological agendas that they believe will be politically effective in their electorates.

Most notably, Labor MPs Meryl Swanson and Joel Fitzgibbon have both recently made statements detailing their strong support for the coal industry, with a level of fervour that would give even Resources Minister Matt Canavan a run for the industry's donations.

There is no way around it, there are challenging times ahead for the ALP. There needs to be a lot of soul searching to work out exactly what the party stands for. A policy platform that is genuinely representative of the values of middle Australia that will resonate across multiple demographics needs to be crafted, in a return to Labor’s working-class roots.

There will be disagreements, there will be intensely fought internal battles, but if there was ever a time to settle these issues once and for all, that time is now.

Ultimately, for the Labor Party to effectively challenge the Morrison Government a new agenda is needed — a new point of view. One in which the needs and values of everyday Australians come first and the ideological baggage that is weighing it down is dumped in the dustbin of history where it belongs.

If Labor cannot make the necessary changes to reconnect with middle Australia and its traditional voter base, the end of the long nightmare for the Left that started on election night could be even further away than people think it is.

Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and political commentator. You can follow Tarric on Twitter @AvidCommentator.

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