Labor’s leader in waiting Anthony Albanese will be forced to jettison the hard-left policies he has espoused for more than three decades, with former party heavyweights questioning his committed socialist positions on asylum-seekers, boat turnbacks and energy policy.
The Conservative Party identified the dangers of the Left’s immigration and climate alarmist policies and it seems, at last Saturday’s election, common sense Australians were wise to them too.
The Australian reports, Mr Albanese, a democratic socialist from Sydney’s inner west who is set to assume the leadership unchallenged on Monday, has become close to far-left socialist British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He has met with the fellow “Tory fighter” at least three times in the past 14 months.
In March last year, Mr Albanese posted on social media that he had caught up “again” with the British Labour leader, whose manifesto includes nationalising Britain’s energy and water networks.
“Talking politics and progress,” he wrote on Facebook above a photo with Mr Corbyn at the Houses of Parliament.
However, since throwing his hat into the ring to become Labor leader, Mr Albanese has done a complete about-face pitching himself as an “inclusive” leader who is prepared to abandon class-war rhetoric to win over the ordinary voters in the suburbs who spurned Labor at Saturday’s election.
But only three days before the poll he said Labor’s infrastructure funding would be paid by hitting the “top end of town”.
And just a few years ago Mr Albanese defied Bill Shorten at Labor’s 2015 national conference by voting against boat turnbacks.
Labor sources said yesterday it may be difficult for the knockabout MP to whitewash his decades-long history as a spear-thrower for Labor’s hard Left.
His former leader, Mark Latham – whose own tenure as Labor boss ended in spectacular fashion in 2005, and who now sits as a One Nation MP in the NSW upper house – said Mr Albanese had been on the “wrong side of history” in Labor’s policy debates for 30 years by veering too far to the Left.
He recalled Mr Albanese as a radical Young Labor member in the 1980s speaking out against the economic policies of the Hawke-Keating governments, including deregulation and tariff cuts.
It was about this time, also, that the firebrand student was suspended from the University of Sydney for his role in leading a protest that included breaking into the university’s clock tower and leading an occupation of the economics building.
One former senior Labor minister, who declined to be named, said Mr Albanese had been too far to the Left on the timber industry, asylum policy, energy policy, mining policy and on uranium exports to India.
“He used to call people from western Sydney rednecks,” the former minister said. “His record speaks for itself.” As a federal MP, Mr Albanese has never been afraid of an internal brawl, spearheading the Left’s strong backing for softer policies on asylum-seekers and boat turnbacks.
In 2001, he spoke passionately against John Howard’s bill to stop the Tampa from delivering more than 400 asylum-seekers to Australia. “This is not a refugee crisis,” he said. “Four hundred people on a boat do not represent a crisis. This is a political crisis for us as a nation, which has been brought on by a desperate prime minister.”
Mr Latham recalled a shouting match in a Canberra restaurant, in front of Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon, after the Tampa incident.
“Albo was telling me how heartless I was for supporting Howard’s policy,” he said. “It was (his position) to let the boats flow. He was (later) influential with (Kevin) Rudd on reopening the borders, there’s no doubt.”