Elect me and I’ll govern like Bob Hawke: Albanese

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Image: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Anthony Albanese will declare he would govern on the Hawke model of consensus, in an economic speech today, that also directs a strong pitch to business.

“If Labor is successful in the coming federal election, I will take my lead from Bob Hawke and his successor Paul Keating,” Albanese will tell the Australian Financial Review’s business summit.

“I want to bring Australians together to build a better future.”

“After nearly a decade of division and policy inertia under the Liberals and Nationals, collaboration lights our way forward,” the opposition leader says in his speech, released ahead of delivery.

“We must rediscover the spirit of consensus […] Bob Hawke used to bring together governments, trade unions, businesses and civil society around their shared aims of growth and job creation.

“He brokered reforms that yielded benefits for all parties – not just better wages for workers, but stronger profits for businesses, along with the introduction of landmark reforms adding to the social dividend, such as Medicare and universal superannuation.”

Albanese says he and his Labor team have worked over the past three years with business “to hear your concerns, consider your suggestions and establish relationships based on trust and respect.

“Following Bob Hawke’s example, I’ve ensured that all of our economic policies target issues that for government, business and trade unions, are shared interests. Productivity. Growth. Jobs.

“I want to lead a government that works across the community,” Albanese says. “Business needs a government that facilitates private sector investment and activity.”

Without spelling it out directly, Albanese is again highlighting a contrast between his approach and Bill Shorten’s assault on the “top end of town” before the last election.

Albanese says the pandemic “has reminded us there is a role for government intervention in the economy to advance the national interest”.

But Scott Morrison, speaking at the summit on Tuesday, rejected the argument COVID had made a case for a greater government role.

Morrison said Australia’s nearly three decades of uninterrupted growth before the pandemic was unmatched by other advanced economies, in duration and growth rate.

“And that’s why, frankly, I’ve never really been in the, and caught up in the hoopla of the, ‘Build Back Better’ camp, that opportunistically sees the post-COVID recovery as some opportunity to replace our market-based, business-led growth economic system, with a government-centred re-imagination of global capitalism.

“Our model of economic management and business-led economic growth has been world class.

“Capitalism didn’t break. The world got hit by a global pandemic.

“And that is why we have championed in every international forum, especially the G20, for business-led growth strategies,” Morrison said.

The government was now was “normalising” fiscal settings and had “handed the reins of our economy back to the private sector, back for business-led growth,” he said.

Morrison said a Labor government, with the Greens, “would seek to snatch the reins back”.

The PM said the world had become “a more uncertain, less stable and more dangerous place.

“The economic agendas are just not re-heats from the 1990s. We need to address the challenge that exists in this day, in this age.

“And it’s important to stress that strong national security and genuine economic security, they go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin. And this drives our outlook.”

Meanwhile the Essential poll, released Tuesday, found only 32% thought the federal government deserved to be reelected while 48% said it was time to give someone else a go.


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Disclosure statement

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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