Bill Shorten says Labor can’t win with a ‘tiny’ policy agenda. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image
Bill Shorten says Labor can’t win with a ‘tiny’ policy agenda. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

Outspoken MP’s backhander to Albo

Bill Shorten has learnt his lesson after being dragged to the left before Labor's shock 2019 election loss, backbencher Joel Fitzgibbon says.

Mr Shorten took a thinly veiled swipe at his predecessor on Sunday, saying Labor needed to "stand for something" and could not win the next election with a "tiny" policy agenda.

The speech came as Mr Shorten launched a collection of essays by members of Labor's right faction and echoed comments made by Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon since last year.

Mr Fitzgibbon quit the frontbench in November, arguing the party had lost touch with its blue-collar base and faced defeat if it continued to focus too heavily on climate change.

Bill Shorten has taken a thinly veiled swipe at Anthony Albanese. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image
Bill Shorten has taken a thinly veiled swipe at Anthony Albanese. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

He claimed Mr Shorten had been dragged to the left during his leadership, describing the speech as "thoughtful" and "humble".

"He was encouraged in the interest of collective unity to be taken to policy positions, very progressive positions both on climate change, and on wealth redistribution, which did him and the party significant harm," Mr Fitzgibbon told Sky News on Monday.

"He's expressing of frustration that we're not now doing better."

But Mr Fitzgibbon denied the timing of the speech, delivered in the midst of speculation over Mr Albanese's leadership, would sow divisions in the party.

"I hope it drives us toward a point of unity and agreement on the things that will matter so much when the next election comes around," he said.

"I welcome more people speaking out about some of the challenges we face, in particular the need to put labour back into the Labor Party and get back to our traditional base."

Joel Fitzgibbon says Bill Shorten has learnt his lessons from a damaging 2019 loss. Picture: Peter Lorimer
Joel Fitzgibbon says Bill Shorten has learnt his lessons from a damaging 2019 loss. Picture: Peter Lorimer

Former deputy Tanya Plibersek has been touted as a potential replacement but said last week Mr Albanese would take the party to the next election.

She declined to answer when asked by 2GB Radio if she harboured her own leadership ambitions.

Mr Shorten took a complex policy platform to Labor's disastrous defeat in May 2019 but warned the party against going too far the other way.

"I have learnt the lessons of defeat and I have learnt, and the party has learnt, the dangers of taking too large or too cluttered a policy agenda to the electorate," he said.

"But the polar opposite of a tiny agenda is not the right way either. We must be an opposition that stands for something. We must be a party of Labor that stands for the real world concerns of working men and women."

Anthony Albanese has refused to confirm whether Labor will commit to a 2030 emissions target. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image
Anthony Albanese has refused to confirm whether Labor will commit to a 2030 emissions target. Picture: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

Mr Albanese has refused to confirm whether the party will take a 2030 emissions target to the next election but told Sky News on Sunday the party's platform would be revealed well before election day.

Labor's climate change agenda in 2019 was particularly progressive by Australian standards, including a pledge to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and a 50 per cent electric vehicles target by the same year.

Mr Shorten said he regretted alienating the party's worker base by allowing environmental issues to "claim a near-monopoly of our time".

Labor trailed the Coalition 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis in the latest Newspoll, while Mr Albanese was well behind Scott Morrison (60 per cent to 28 per cent) as preferred prime minister.

Originally published as Outspoken MP's backhander to Albo



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