Labor campaign director says Australia chose a ‘better future’ over more Scott Morrison

Paul Erickson to tell press club of election-winning strategy including Anthony Albanese’s leadership and stoking ‘mood for change’

Labor’s election victory was aided by Australia’s rejection of the spectre of three more years of Scott Morrison, according to the man responsible for the party’s winning strategy.

Labor’s national secretary, Paul Erickson, will credit Anthony Albanese’s offer of a “better future” in contrast with “three more years of Scott Morrison” as the “powerful argument” that secured the victory in a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

He will claim the victory was also helped by Morrison’s lack of fresh ideas, a campaign dominated by the cost of living and the Coalition’s failure on China.

The campaign director’s address will give insight into how Labor won government from opposition for just the fourth time since the second world war, securing a majority with 77 MPs and ousting the Coalition after nine years in office.

In excerpts of the speech seen by Guardian Australia, Erickson credited Albanese’s leadership, saying voters had taken the chance to “elect a prime minister who would show up, take responsibility and work with people to solve problems”.

He revealed the Labor campaign’s two core objectives: to “stoke a mood for change” by boosting Labor’s policies on wages, Medicare, childcare, renewable energy and manufacturing; and to “ensure that for anyone still sitting on the fence, the spectre that haunted them into the polling booth was three more years of Scott Morrison”.

The Liberals, by contrast, framed the election as a choice between “the devil you know” and a “leap into the unknown”.

“The biggest barrier Labor had to overcome was not voters’ evaluation of our proposition, or a counter-offer from the Coalition,” Erickson will say in his speech.

“It was a widespread and deep sense of fatigue, anxiety, and aversion to risk after some of the most difficult years we’ve endured.

“Normally, these sentiments would drive fence-sitters decisively back to the government of the day and weigh heavily against an effort to build a majority for change.”

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Erickson will say Labor’s aim of warning about “three more years of Morrison” was reinforced by its assessment the Coalition would “do some work for us – that all they would offer the electorate was more of the same” on low wage growth and cost of living.

“In fact, I’m not sure they put forward a single idea until six days out from the election,” he will say, in reference to the plan to allow first-homebuyers access to up to $50,000 in superannuation for a deposit.

But even that “final week surprise fell flat because voters saw it for what it was – bad policy that would undermine the superannuation system and push up house prices”.

“In our final week research we struggled to find a friend for the Liberals’ superannuation-for-housing policy.”

The Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, has signalled the party was likely to retain the policy, with many senior figures in the opposition arguing the Coalition was defeated not due to its policies, but due to a mood for change.

But Erickson suggested that the Coalition’s policy failures on China and its “incoherent” opposition to higher wages also played a role in the “colourful and dramatic” weeks before the 21 May poll.

Cost of living was the top election issue, with voters “facing rising interest rates, spiralling inflation and declining real wages”.

Labor had “campaigned consistently on the need to boost wages growth”, including in its TV ads, citing measures to increase work security, participation, training and support minimum wage cases.

“The Liberals argued that Australia was already enjoying a strong recovery, but only a returned Morrison government could secure that recovery,” Erickson will say.

He will say that when the Liberals “claimed the sky would fall in” over Albanese’s support for a minimum wage rise in line with inflation it undercut “their campaign assertions about the strength of the recovery”.

“This wasn’t just incompetent, it was incoherent.”

Erickson accused the Coalition of an “irresponsible and immature” response to the news China would sign a security pact with Solomon Islands, with “assertions that the Chinese Communist party were backing Labor, warmongering rhetoric on Anzac day, talk of ‘red lines’, and failed attempts to suggest Labor opposes the Aukus arrangement”.

This followed “February’s Manchurian candidate silliness”, when Morrison and then defence minister Dutton suggested Labor figures including deputy leader, Richard Marles, were helped by China.

Labor responded to the Solomon Islands deal by releasing a “detailed plan to restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice for countries in the Pacific”, Erickson will say.

“The contrast couldn’t have been clearer, and voters reached the inescapable conclusion that the Coalition had completely dropped the ball.”


Paul Karp

The GuardianTramp

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