Federal Politics

Federal Politics Live: September 24, 2013

Now it's over to the Labor Party members to make up their minds. We will know the result in ten days' time on October 13.

Thanks for being with me this evening. Your company is, as always, delightful.

Well, that was interesting.

Both men were incredibly nice about each other and the importance of the democratisation (for want of a better word) of the leadership process.

Both delivered very positive visions for Labor.

Mr Albanese concentrated more on attacking the Coalition government than on presenting his own Labor vision. To me this seemed like he was making the case to be opposition leader rather than Labor leader if you get my drift. You could see more of how he wanted to fight Prime Minister Tony Abbott rather than how he wanted to lead Labor.

Mr Shorten, on the other hand, laid out the areas he wanted to focus on as Labor leader - domestic violence and the ongoing discrimination against women, an (unspecified) increase in the refugee program, areas which would appeal to the left of the party (from which Mr Albanese hails). Mr Shorten was demonstrating his vision rather than the case he would make against the Coalition.

 

 

Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese at the Labor leadership debate in Sydney.
Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese at the Labor leadership debate in Sydney. Photo: Marco Del Grande

And that's it. (Except for the raffle which I won't blog.)

Mr Shorten: "I believe there's an appetite in this community for brave political parties....We should be the party which is brave. We should be the party of the future.....If elected you will hear less about 'I' and more about 'we'. The era of the messiah is over."

Mr Shorten says there will always be a place for Labor as long as there is a child who goes to school without breakfast and as long as there is a parent concerned about their child with a disability.

Bill Shorten at the Labor leadership debate.
Bill Shorten at the Labor leadership debate. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Mr Shorten says he wondered if the leadership process would "go off the rails" but it has jump started Labor's momentum.

"If you pick him I can understand," Mr Shorten says of Mr Albanese.

Speaking up for people who are the underdogs is "Labor's DNA", he says.

"We are part of the Australian story....We need to refresh and renew and reinvigorate that vision and we can."

"As Gough Whitlam said it's about the party and the policies and the people."

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Mr Albanese says the "time is right" for him to "step up to the leadership of the Labor Party".

"I wouldn't do it if I didn't think I was the right person to lead the Labor Party at this time," Mr Albanese says before saying more nice things about Bill Shorten and the members.

"Make sure you vote," he finishes.

Anthony Albanese at the  Labor leadership debate in Sydney.
Anthony Albanese at the Labor leadership debate in Sydney. Photo: Marco Del Granda

Concluding statements.

Mr Albanese: "This is an historic moment for our great party....If I had my way this certainly won't be the last."

"We want it to be just one term [of opposition]....Labor governments make a real difference. It is only Labor governments that tackle the big ideas."

"We need to use this period of opposition to hold the government to account and defend our legacy....Labor needs to be a constructive opposition but also use this period to develop the next big ideas."

 

A woman in the audience wants to know what Labor will do for women.

Mr Albanese says Labor has a strong record of selecting and promoting women.

Mr Shorten says he is sick of seeing the discrimination against women that still exists in Australia. He does not like that his daughter and step daughters face pressures about the way they dress that "blokes" do not.

Domestic violence is only the "tip", Mr Shorten, says before listing the gender pay gap, lack of childcare and part time work, pregnancy discrimination and job insecurity as the issues women must deal with.

"Your beautiful child doesn't stop needing their primary carer at 9 or 12 months," Mr Shorten says.

Mr Shorten says Labor must "pull up its socks" when it comes to its own quotas for women MPs.

Both Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten are championing the national disability insurance scheme (which Labor did not mention much during the campaign for fear people might remember the prime minister who got it through Parliament - Julia Gillard).

Mr Shorten is reminding people that he was the one who championed the scheme as parliamentary secretary.

Mr Albanese talks about his mother who suffered from arthritis and needed assistance.

 

Bill Shorten at the first Labor leadership debate in Sydney.
Bill Shorten at the first Labor leadership debate in Sydney. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Bill Shorten is spending the time Mr Albanese speaks tweeting his heart out.

(I'm not going to put them up because that's just unfair.)

Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten at their first debate before party members at UTS, Sydney.
Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten at their first debate before party members at UTS, Sydney. Photo: Marco Del Grande
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An audience member would like to know if either man is prepared to fight an election with a more humane policy on asylum seekers.

Mr Albanese: "In terms of moving forward we need to hold the government to account. They've gone from stopping the boats, to buying the boats to hiding the boats."

Mr Shorten: "Immigration to this country is a great thing.....I do not think it is illegal for people to want to come here....We are pro refugees. It is not a bad thing to want to come here."

Mr Shorten says Labor must define itself by "our fundamental principles" and should life its refugee intake.

 

Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese at the Labor debate.
Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese at the Labor debate. Photo: Rob Homer

The next questioner wants to know why young people aren't interested in politics: "The Labor Party represents young people - we just need to remind them of that."

Mr Shorten says he does not think young people are disengaged with politics. Rather, it is about the party connecting with young people and their interests such as the environment, foreign aid and women's rights.

"The way that the Labor Party organises its own matters can join the 21st century," Mr Shorten says. "There are issues still worth fighting for in the community."

Mr Albanese says this process of electing a new Labor leader will help young people see that politics isn't something that just happens in Parliament house.

"We need to engage, I think, much better in the future," he says.

Now to questions.

The gentleman with the microphone asks what kind of prime minister both men want to be.

Mr Albanese says he is much better equipped to be an infrastructure prime minister than Tony Abbott.

Mr Shorten: "I would like to the prime minister for the powerless....We need to be a party for all Australians."

Mr Shorten says he thinks about people with disabilities and their carers and victims of domestic violence.

Mr Albanese says Labor must not shy away from its legacy.

His is a "warts and all" candidacy.

"What you see is what you get," Mr Albanese says.

Anthony Albanese at first leadership debate before party members at UTS, Sydney.
Anthony Albanese at first leadership debate before party members at UTS, Sydney. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Mr Albanese says Labor must do a better job at communication its policies.

He says Labor had an excellent small business policy at the last election but failed to sell it.

Mr Albanese also names sustainability - "not an add on but an essential part of a modern economy".

"Climate change didn't end just because Mr Abbott become prime minister," he says.

 

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Anthony Albanese: "Just two weeks after our electoral defeat Labor is becoming stronger."

Mr Albanese says he does not want to lead "just a party" but a movement.

Mr Albanese says his vision is based on "what people talk about around the kitchen table" - education, healthcare, childcare and jobs.

 

Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese arrive for the Labor debate.
Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese arrive for the Labor debate. Photo: Rob Homer

Mr Shorten says Labor must be brave on behalf of those who are powerless and have no voice.

He names domestic violence as the area Labor must focus on in the same way it took the initiative on the national disability insurance scheme.

Mr Shorten says "a line must be drawn under the divisions of the past" and calls for unity whoever wins the leadership.

"What will generate Labor....is the quality of our ideas," Mr Shorten says.

The next election will not be won in the Parliament alone, he says.

Mr Shorten wants Labor to be the party of science, innovation, life long learning and bravery.

 

Bill Shorten goes first: "I believe that I am like all of you - I joined the Labor Party to make a difference. In my case that was 29 years ago when I was 17 years old."

Mr Shorten says the leadership debate comes down to the question of how each contender will make the Labor Party relevant to the lives of ordinary Australians.

(Mr Shorten manages to get the evening's first "light on the hill" reference in.)

"We must take stock of where we are," Mr Shorten says. "We came second. Only 34 in every 100 Australians puts us first.....We have only a million and a half Australians who have moved their vote to the Coalition."

Your chair for tonight's proceedings is the NSW Labor Party President Michael Lee (his claim to political fame is for a stint as communications ministers in the Keating government).

Anthony Albanese has won the toss and has chosen to go second.

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