Politics Analysis

Calls for Albanese to stand aside are unhelpful and futile

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Labor Leader Anthony Albanese is often ignored by the media (image by International Transport Forum via Flickr)

Replacing Labor Leader Anthony Albanese with Tanya Plibersek or Jim Chalmers would be profoundly misguided, writes Alan Austin.

JAMES CAMPBELL leaned back and adopted an authoritative "listen to me, this is critical" tone of voice.

The veteran Murdoch journalist then "explained" to his ABC Insiders co-panellists and the audience Australia-wide that:

'I think you’ve really hit something important here. What you are looking at with this Government ... it’s starting to look like this might be a Government where people who bring up awkward suggestions are seen as troublemakers. And things only really get dealt with when there’s a crisis.'

There was pause for dramatic effect when presenter David Speers said:

“That is Anthony Albanese’s line.”

Campbell looked shocked and said, “is it?” Clearly, he had no idea.

This is significant for two reasons.

Concerning media tactics

First, it reveals Murdoch’s News Corp has not just "banned" reporting any incisive critique of the Morrison Government offered by the Labor Leader. They have further decided not to listen to anything he says.

It is telling that a national political editor could have missed the fact that he was quoting Albanese's key message over the last year or so, unless, of course, he didn't listen to the speeches and interviews or read the transcripts.

This is part of the Murdoch strategy for ensuring the incompetent Morrison Government remains in office indefinitely: ignore the Labor Leader entirely.

Second, Campbell’s comment confirms, accidentally on his part, that what the Labor leader has been saying all along is correct, timely and in the national interest.

It is critical that Labor supporters conned into calling for Albanese to step aside before the next election understand this.

A determined campaign is being waged by all the pro-Coalition media together with Coalition MPs, big business, potentially some senior public servants and once-independent Federal departments to shore up the Morrison Government by undermining Labor’s leader.

They have done this ever since Arthur Calwell and will continue to do so. It would be no different with Plibersek or Chalmers.

Calls for Albo to be replaced have appeared in mainstream outlets The Canberra Times, The Guardian,  Brisbane's The Courier-MailThe Australian, the UK's Daily Mail and on the ABC's Insiders. Similar pronouncements were made in The Saturday Paper, The Monthly and The Conversation.

Electors do not vote for the leader

The other reality relevant to the ill-advised push against Albo is that federal elections are not won or lost by leaders. Most vote for the party they perceive will benefit them financially.

The last three elections have largely proven that.

In 2013, voters rejected Labor and embraced the Coalition led by Tony Abbott. To that point, Abbott had failed at many things he had attempted in life and was arguably the least competent leader of any party in the Westminster world since World War II.

The Coalition won because voters were convinced by an effective campaign of mistruths that Labor had taken the country into appalling debt and the Coalition would soon repay it.

Of course, Labor hadn’t and the Coalition didn’t.

Following a series of blunders and gaffes, Abbott was replaced in 2015 by Malcolm Turnbull, who was already discarded once as leader and also had low approval ratings. Voters didn’t care that the Liberals had ditched the Prime Minister they elected. Turnbull won the 2016 Election handily, again on misguided perceptions of economic self-interest.

Turnbull’s new Treasurer, Scott Morrison, had an extraordinary capacity to lie about the economy which helped the Coalition win in 2016. Morrison's efforts were coupled with the media attacking then Labor Leader Bill Shorten for claiming the Coalition intended to cut Medicare. They said Shorten was running a “Mediscare” campaign. We now know he wasn’t.

Despite winning that Election, Turnbull was replaced in 2018 by Scott Morrison, who had also failed dismally in all previous portfolios.

His record as Treasurer was the worst in Australia’s postwar history up to that time. Morrison forced tens of billions of dollars in Australia’s wealth offshore through minerals exported without royalties and record untaxed corporate profits. He took net debt from 15.1 per cent of GDP to 18.5 per cent, the worst blow-out in the OECD. Wages fell in real terms and annual GDP growth slumped to below 0.5 per cent, sending the economy into a per capita recession.

Australia’s IAREM ranking fell from ninth-best economy in the world down to the 21st. The only treasurer in the Westminster world in the last 80 years to have performed worse than Scott Morrison is his successor, Josh Frydenberg.

The winning strategy

Labor supporters conned into thinking Labor can’t win with Albo but might with someone else should suspend this futile unhelpfulness (STFU) and combat the mainstream media’s false narratives.

Videos of Albo tearing down the Morrison Government on social media, and many of his incisive quotes, demonstrate his capacity to lead the Labor Party.

Recent classic Albo quotes include:

“As she [Susan Ryan, first woman Labor minister] worked to lift other women, she lifted the whole nation ... The doors she opened will never be closed again.”

“This is a Government that always crabwalks ninety degrees before it goes 180.”


“It’s a pity we don’t have knighthoods. Sir Mick Molloy has a bit of a ring about it, doesn’t it?”


“This is a Prime Minister who can roll out the red carpet for himself, but hasn’t been able to roll out the vaccine.”


“The [Morrison] Government only responds once there is an absolute crisis but never, ever provides leadership.”

As James Campbell said and cannot now unsay, the Morrison Government’s weak reactivity is “really important”. It is vitally important. And it is Albo’s line.

Alan Austin’s defamation matter is nearly over. You can read the latest update here and contribute to the crowd-funding campaign HEREAlan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

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