Bill Shorten wife Chloe concedes defeat following the results of the federal election. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty
Bill Shorten wife Chloe concedes defeat following the results of the federal election. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty

One word destroyed Labor’s chances

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ANALYSIS

Labor was beaten on the ground and in the hearts and minds of an apprehensive electorate.

It lost to a Coalition which didn't rely on past achievements or adventurous promises, but worked hard to generate disquiet about where Labor would take the country.

Labor must now examine why so many voters wouldn't trust it and went for the Liberal scares.

And the most likely answer is the leadership of Bill Shorten. He became Opposition Leader close to six years ago with a popularity deficit and did little during the election campaign to repair it.

That flinching from Mr Shorten reduced Labor's ability to gain the confidence of the electorate in what was a bold set of policy promises.

Even Mr Shorten's declaration this election was a plebiscite on wages was greeted with cynicism.

But that cannot be presented as the party's biggest problem this election.

There was the uncertainty which spread like a virus through Queensland in particular, robbing Labor of seats in the state's south-east it had hoped to take.

Also, Labor was punished in regional areas of the state where it appeared to be championing metropolitan fashion such as expensive climate change priorities - or in other words, to be an inner-city policy snob.

The perception was of regional Queenslanders paying the price in jobs and growth for the ALP looking after Sydney and Melbourne voters.

A measure of Labor's rejection is the remarkable list of Coalition travesties which were forgiven by enough voters to give victory to Scott Morrison.

There was, for example, National George Christensen who over a period spent more time in Manila than in his home town of Mackay. This clearly didn't bother the people of his Queensland seat of Dawson.

The source of voter tolerance of MP truancy and other unhappy episodes could be summed up in one word: Adani.

 

Adani sums up Labor’s election disaster in Queensland. Picture: Kym Smith
Adani sums up Labor’s election disaster in Queensland. Picture: Kym Smith

The fate of the proposed Queensland coal mine and exorbitant claims of job creation attached to it became the demarcation point between Labor and the LNP.

One of the daftest and most self-indulgent features of the campaign was the Adani convoy of Greens leaders who drove to central Queensland full of moral superiority. All they did was further convince locals the anti-mine movement was part of a Labor/Greens plot against them.

And across the nation the ALP's big emissions reduction target and its failure to detail what this would cost the economy and employment was a damning position which will not survive this election.

Labor did much to create its own disaster.

It presented a multi-level tax policy which might have looked a beautiful piece of fiscal architecture in theory but which politically was a ramshackle structure which collapsed under the slightest pressure.

The individual sections of the ALP tax policy might have directly affected only a small proportion of the electorate but each section antagonised a class of taxpayer.

Soon, Labor found it had picked so many fights with angry voters its entire policy package was being rejected.

Even retirees who didn't benefit from the franking credits Labor wanted to eliminate were worried. And its negative gearing plans became a further threat to the value of the family home, usually our biggest single investment.

 

Scott Morrison with wife Jenny and children Abbey (right) and Lily (left) after winning the 2019 federal election. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins
Scott Morrison with wife Jenny and children Abbey (right) and Lily (left) after winning the 2019 federal election. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins

Mr Morrison skilfully put together the Labor tax policy jigsaw to create a picture of big government brigandry, of an intent to take more of your money.

As much as the ALP promoted proposals for more funds going to health and education and other worthy destinations, the Liberals insisted the objective was to make you keep less of the money you earned.

Mr Morrison was more convincing than Mr Shorten when it came to delivering assurances to voters that their personal considerations were being tended to.


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