Peter van Onselen: Labor seeking re-election with similar agenda in 2013

May 3, 2016 2:00am
Peter Van Onselen says Labor is seeking re-election with a similar agenda to when it lost government in 2013. Picture: Tim Marsden
Peter Van Onselen says Labor is seeking re-election with a similar agenda to when it lost government in 2013. Picture: Tim Marsden

AS LABOR rolled out another pre-election policy this week, details surrounding its planned Emissions Trading Scheme, one thing became increasingly clear. Labor is seeking re-election with a similar agenda to when it lost government in 2013.

Peter van Onselen.

The 2013 defeat Labor suffered was huge. But the hope in Labor circles is that the leadership turmoil that engulfed the party was the reason voters turned against it, rather than policy.

Labor will seek to double down on this during the campaign, claiming that the Coalition’s change of prime minister shows that they have fallen into the same trap.

But is Labor right? Can they put forward an ETS with even higher targets for emissions reductions and not fall victim to the wrath of voters?

This week we also saw a breakout from some Labor MPs over how to handle asylum seekers in the wake of the PNG Supreme Court’s ruling on Manus. Is stopping the boats also returning as an election issue?

In 2007 when the Coalition lost office it failed to renew the party adequately.

But, unlike Labor now, it quickly jettisoned the policies which helped bring it down. Work Choices was dumped, the apology to indigenous Australians was quickly supported by the newly minted Opposition, which even backed Kevin Rudd’s plans to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Labor’s failure to accept the policy decision of voters in 2013 is risky business.

Just watch as the Coalition uses the campaign to remind voters Labor hasn’t changed and therefore isn’t ready to return to government.

Peter van Onselen is The Sunday Times political analyst and a professor at UWA.