The desertion of low-income earners was a “major concern” for Labor after the shock May 18 election loss, party national president Wayne Swan said this evening.
But Mr Swan backed the policy agenda that was taken to the campaign and predicted history would vindicate the Opposition’s stance on climate change.
“There is no doubt in this election Labor failed to win the votes of many on low incomes and in insecure work. This is a cause for concern,” he said in Sydney, launching the book Story of our Country: Labor’s Vision for Australia by Dr Adrian Pabst.
And he advised his party: ”We always have to remember the tea room when we are in the boardroom and vice versa.”
The ALP president also criticised the party’s failure to defend controversial tax policies and environmental programs, but insisted they would be applauded in history books.
“Some times you’ve got to take one for history and maybe, in a sense, we did that in May,” he said.
Mr Swan painted a relatively positive response to the loss, which cost Bill Shorten the leadership and left Labor in what has been seen as glum inactivity under Anthony Albanese.
He saw a parallel with Labor leader Arthur Calwell’s rejection to Australia’s military commitment to Vietnam in 1965, ordered by Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies.
“Just as we were right to oppose participation in Vietnam because Menzies’ case was built on a collection of lies, we are right to oppose climate change denial because it too is built on a collection of lies,” he said.
“Science is on our side. A victory built on winning a race to the bottom on cheap tax cuts or
consolidating power in the hands of a few is not a victory at all.”
Labor has ordered a review of its campaign from former minister Craig Emerson and former South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to be delivered in October, and there is speculation former leader Mr Shorten and former national secretary Noah Carroll could be criticised
Wayne Swan did not single out individuals in his speech this evening, but noted critical campaign shortcomings.
He said Labor’s policy defences “could have been constructed better”.
He said: “Labor didn’t do enough to defend our vulnerabilities on tax and climate. Labor was literally outspent six-to-one so we couldn’t hope to compete in dollar terms.
“I firmly believe we didn’t focus enough on defending our vulnerabilities — especially on tax measures and the negative characterisations of Labor’s economic management credentials.”