Labor Party review - 2HD interview

November 08, 2019

 RICHARD KING: Labor party's review into the election loss earlier this year was handed in yesterday. There's been a fair amount of discussion, a lot of it seems to have focused on the unpopularity of Bill Shorten. But with his thoughts on that review joining us now is Labor's Federal Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy.

Morning Pat.


KING: Good thanks Pat, Do you think it's a little unfair that a lot of the focus seems to be, the reference to the unpopularity of the then leader Bill Shorten?

CONROY: Well, I think the review makes it very clear that there are three driving factors around our election loss. Number one was a weak strategy or lack of strategy. Number two was the fact that we had too many policies and many policies scared people and number three the unpopularity of our leader. So all three contributed and it certainly would be unfair to say that we lost the election because of Bill's unpopularity.

KIM BAUER: But Pat you say lack of strategy. There is a lot of people in the party, a lot of people behind the party, a lot of money behind the party. How could you have a lack of strategy?

CONROY: It's a very good question. When I read the review yesterday that's the thing that struck me most profoundly was the failure to have a strategy, the failure to have a clear overall message to the Australian people about why they should vote for Labor and comprehensive failure of other parts of our campaign around our polling, our communications, the communications between national secretary and the leadership of the Parliamentary Labor party. These were comprehensive failures and undoubtedly they were big drivers of our loss. It's incredible that a modern political party would find itself in this position.

KING: The franking credits seemed to be very unpopular certainly with a section of the electorate. Was that the main policy that seemed to drive the negatives?

CONROY: I think it was more symbolic of broader challenges because if you look at where areas swung towards Labor and where areas swung against us. The people directly impacted by our franking credits policy actually swung towards Labor, they voted more for Labor in this election then they did previously and it's the people who were completely un-impacted who swung against us. So It's more about the fact that we had so many policies, people were scared of the policies, people saw us raising lots of revenue to fund our policies and were worried about the impact of that on the economy and on their jobs. Especially, people whose employment was insecure, they were very concerned about what was happening in the global economy and the national economy and they decided we were too risky.

BAUER: You just mentioned swings. Joel Fitzgibbon, he went very close to losing his seat. Lost the faith of the people in the bush really. We are talking about the drought and the Prime Minister released his policy yesterday, what did you make of that?

CONROY: I think it's an improvement on what was there before and we will see how it goes in practice. Unfortunately, the trend has been for the Prime Minister to make big announcements with lots of money but when you talk to farmers, it doesn't actually get to them. So, for example, the centerpiece of all the drought packages is his farm household assistance package which provides income to farmers and the income that farmers need, given that they can't grow crops at the moment. Only one in four eligible families has actually been able to claim the money and they have changed the scheme four times already. So I'll reserve my judgment until I actually see the implementation, but we definitely need more help for our farmers in this troubled drought and we will see if they get it.

KING: It’s a quarter to seven on 2HD our guest, Labor's federal member for Shortland, Pat Conroy. Pat the last time we spoke to you front and centre was the discussion was the aged care royal commission. You did write to the commission back in August hoping to have a hearing in Newcastle. It's going to happen later this month you are obviously very happy about it that.

CONROY: Absolutely I am delighted that the campaign that we ran in the community to get a hearing has been successful and there will be a hearing at NEX, the old Newcastle workers club on Wednesday 27th of November from 9.30 am and it will be a great opportunity for people in our region to talk to the royal commission , explain what their experience and their family members experience was and provide suggestions on how the system can be improved. Because I want every single older Australian to be given a quality aged care system and at the moment the system is failing.

BAUER: Hear, hear

KING: It certainly is. Alright, it is always good to talk to you Pat. Thank you very much for your time, have a great weekend.

CONROY: Thanks guys have a great morning.