It was written in big words during the 2019 campaign, the day Bill Shorten traveled to the industrial town of Gladstone in central Queensland in an attempt to win Flynn’s crucial seat.

At the time, the Morrison government was proposing the phased introduction of income tax cuts. The third and final step would begin on July 1, 2024. It would abolish the 37% tax bracket and apply a fixed rate of 30% to all income between $ 45,000 and $ 200,000.

Labor opposed the third step. Instead, if elected, he said he would reinstate the Abbott government’s 2% deficit tax on income over $ 180,000, raising the income tax rate above $ 180,000. this threshold is almost 50% after the Medicare surcharge is taken into account.

While visiting a coal loading port in Gladstone, Shorten was asked by a laborer who was making $ 250,000 a year from overtime and evening shifts why Labor was not prepared to give him a tax break. Shorten replied, “We will look into this.”

This pivotal moment, according to the post-election review of the ALP led by former Jay Weatherhill and Craig Emerson, further fueled the “Shifty Shorten” story. It also illustrates the dilemma of work.

Labor was prepared to tax this guy to fund billions of dollars in expanded services and grants for those with much lower incomes.

It couldn’t please both of them and he couldn’t admit it.

The third stage tax cuts were legislated after the 2019 election and Labor supported them, only because they were tied to the second stage and did not want to be seen as holding them back.

At the time, Anthony Albanese said that with the third stage not being launched until 2024, Labor would reserve its ultimate position until closer to the next election, given that no one knew what the state of the world would be. ‘economy.

In October last year, with the budget in shambles thanks to COVID-19, Labor began formulating a plan to change tax cuts so that the 30% rate applies to incomes up to 180 $ 000 instead of $ 200,000. The estimated economy – around $ 80 billion between 2024 and the end of the decade – would be used to repair debt and deficit and fund Labor election priorities.

This week there has been a shift in mindset, sparked by last Saturday’s state by-election at Upper Hunter’s NSW headquarters. The Nationals retained the seat, but Labor was spooked by a sharp drop in its primary vote.

State Labor Party leader Jodi McKay described the result as “a terrible result”, saying: “The workers are not voting for us. Why?”

On Friday she was gone, the first victim. The Federal Labor Party also got the message, although it did not say so publicly.

On Monday evening after the by-election, the leadership group met in Canberra and decided that a pre-election position on tax cuts should be taken as soon as possible, to end growing internal disagreements over the way forward, not to mention a growing resumption of the Coalition’s 2019 campaign that Labor is the party of tax hikes and anti-aspiration.

The pressure to leave the cuts intact comes mainly from the right. Prominent figures such as Deputy Chief Richard Marles, Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten are prominent. Those who claim to cut cuts tend to be either on the left and / or involved in formulating social policy.

Sources said pushing through the cuts would mean Labor would have to put the brakes on its election plans in areas such as elderly care, Newstart and child care.

Labor has already embarked on a $ 6.7 billion childcare policy, hinted it went beyond government to respond to royal commission on personal care the elderly, and left open the increase in the Newstart benefit for the unemployed.

On energy, the Weatherill / Emerson report attributed Labor Party ambiguity over the Adani Coal Mine as a key factor in the party’s poor performance in Queensland. The situation was made worse by a protest convoy led by former Green leader Bob Brown, which angered residents.

“The anti-Adani campaign anchored in Queensland mining communities the view that progressive parties viewed their jobs as unworthy, deepening the gulf between ‘self’ and ‘other’, where ‘the other’ was southerners telling the Queenslanders how to live their lives, ”the report says.

“Entire communities in central and northern Queensland have reacted wildly to this perception, voting strongly against Labor and the Greens.

“For similar reasons, mining communities in the Hunter Valley of NSW have strongly opposed Labor.”

So, it is no coincidence that just days before the Upper Hunter by-election, the Morrison government announced its heavily signaled plans to build a peak taxpayer-funded gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley. to help fill the production void when coal. The Liddell plant closes in April 2023.

While the magnitude of this vacuum and the economic good faith of the proposal were, and are, hotly contested, the policy was Labor 101.

The gas peaker would accelerate the decline of coal-fired electricity, firm up renewable energy, and could one day run on hydrogen, while lowering prices and saving jobs, including those at the aluminum smelter in Tomago, who are held hostage to price spikes during peak demand periods.

Most of the new members of the Labor Party come from… good young people with… ideas that push the party further to the left.

– Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor MP

The unions supported the idea, as did Federal Labor member Meryl Swanson, whose Paterson headquarters would be the site of the new station. But the official position of the Labor Party was to oppose it on the grounds that a government should not intervene where the free market does not. The job required seeing the business case.

Swanson told caucus this week that she believed her party was “sleepwalking on a cliff.” She said voters were tired of Labor’s moans. Morrison makes the same point because focus groups say the same thing.

Equally unhappy was Joel Fitzgibbon, who suffered a big swing against him in his Hunter seat in the 2019 poll.

He believes the solution to the Labor dilemma becomes even more elusive, due to what he says is institutionalized elitism that has gripped the party over the past 30 years.

He cites two factors, the first being the shrinking pool of labor candidates focused on university campuses in capital cities.

“There has been a change of generation. Nowadays, most of the new members of the Labor Party come from college campuses in our capitals. And you can imagine what kind of demographics you take over there, ”he told Canberra 2CC radio last week.

“Good young people with very progressive ideas, but ideas that push the Labor Party further to the left. And of course, it starts to alienate other people who had a more traditional view of the party and the result is very obvious.

The second factor, Fitzgibbon said, was the leadership rules Rudd bequeathed to the party – which allow grassroots members, who are more to the left than the federal party, to have a 50 percent vote in the leadership. .

“What this means is that whoever wants to be a leader has to gain the love and attention of the grassroots all over the country, and if the grassroots become more and more progressive, then the leadership discourse has to be more. and more progressive, ”he said.

With the Albanian leadership being secure but subject to constant analysis, the latter has an influence on those who line up to replace him, Fitzgibbon believes.

Albanese himself defined the Labor Party dilemma in his first big speech as a leader and he sought to address it by shifting the sales pitch on the Labor approach to climate change to that of creating a jobs as Australia became a clean energy superpower.

He has dispensed with such reckless and divisive language as “the upper end of town” and, despite claims to the contrary by his detractors, is not particularly keen on either.

But despite this and subsequent attempts to restore the balance, Fitzgibbon and his ilk say voters in the regions have doubts about Labor’s sincerity.

As bleak as the start of this week was for Labor, it ended with another demonstration of how quickly politics continues to turn. With Victoria locked up for the fourth time, the Morrison government for the first time found itself blamed.

Albanese was everywhere, saying Morrison was responsible for the slow rollout of the vaccine and its inability to build alternatives to quarantine in hotels.

It was the moment that united the Labor Party, but one of the Albanian critics doesn’t think it will win out over the biggest structural dilemma the party continues to grapple with.



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