Anthony Albanese's leadership of the Labor Party has underwhelmed its supporters, writes Tarric Brooker.
AFTER LOSING THE "unlosable election" back in May, few could have possibly imagined how quickly Bill Shorten’s leadership would begin to be viewed favourably compared with that of current opposition leader Anthony Albanese.
Following his shock election defeat many expected Shorten to retire from politics and gradually fade from public life, but instead Shorten chose to stay on.
Without the weight of the Labor leadership on his shoulders, Shorten has emerged from the political wilderness as one of the strongest and most vocal critics of the Morrison government.
After it was recently revealed that the Morrison Government had not passed on any of this year’s interest rate cuts to pensioners using the government’s reverse mortgage scheme, Shorten went on the attack with a level of tenacity that has been rarely seen from Labor since the election.
In an ironic twist, Albanese and Shorten have appeared to switch roles. Shorten has become the chief Labor attack dog, tenaciously going after the Government on anything within his purview as Shadow Minister for Government Services.
Meanwhile, Albanese has morphed from a firebrand unabashed leftist into a confused leader, who seems like he isn’t quite sure what his leadership and the modern Labor Party actually stand for.
When Labor lost the election its supporters were inconsolable, after being so sure that they would finally win government. But Albanese’s leadership was meant to be a solid consolation prize. After nearly six years of having a leader a large majority the rank and file members voted against, the Labor faithful finally had the man they wanted in the first place.
However, after almost six months of Albanese’s leadership, there is precious little sign of the principled individual who would fight for what he believed in for years regardless of the odds.
Instead, the Labor faithful has been given a front-row seat to a five and a half month long caving expedition. As Albanese finds new and innovative ways to not only not oppose the Government’s proposed legislation, but actually turn around and vote with the Morrison Government for it.
In fact, Albanese told the Labor caucus that they better get used to supporting “flawed” Coalition legislation.
Labor is in a poor political position in terms of the numbers in the Senate. That much is true, but that doesn’t mean that you give up the fight.
The reality is the Morrison Government has only a two-seat majority in the house and it has to rely on a wide range of Senate crossbenchers to pass its legislation. With questions still remaining over embattled Liberal MP Gladys Liu, it’s not hard to imagine the Morrison Government’s majority reduced to a single seat.
Whether or not it’s politically advantageous to engage in a small target opposition strategy remains a matter for debate. But what shouldn’t be up for debate is the duty of the opposition and all parliamentarians to fight for the best possible outcomes for the Australian people.
Under the Morrison Government, private sector jobs growth has quite literally crashed and economic growth continues to deteriorate. Yet the Albanese opposition waves through tax cuts and free trade deals that could cost Australian workers their job.
Shorten was never a leader of the calibre of Hawke or Keating, but in the later years of his leadership, he at least took the Coalition to task at times and actually opposed legislation that Labor members were against.
If Albanese’s caving expedition continues into the new year, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to once again see Shorten’s name in the headlines for a prospective return to the leadership. Because right now a single well delivered Bill Shorten "zinger" has far more life in it than the entirety of Anthony Albanese’s leadership.
Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and political commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @AvidCommentator.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.