License article

Labor brand plea: 'We're not toothpaste'

Show comments

The Queensland opposition leader has slammed ongoing talk about the depleted Labor party’s “brand”, saying the word was more suited to toothpaste than to a people-focused political force.

Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk last night reflected on the party’s predicament as she announced the creation of a new think-tank to help drive policy development.

Ms Palaszczuk, one of just seven Labor MPs left in the 89-seat Parliament, said the diminished party would need extra support as it began redrafting its policies and looking for new ideas.

She said the T.J. Ryan Foundation, named after a Labor premier who governed in Queensland nearly 100 years ago, would provide a forum for debate on policy development.

Ms Palaszczuk’s speech to the Queensland Council of Unions' Labour Day event came amid debate over the way forward for the party, battered by heavy losses at the March 24 state election and last weekend’s Brisbane City Council poll.

The plans were light on detail last night, but initial funding would come from the Labor Party ($15,000), Queensland Council of Unions ($5000) and from a fund contributed to by state Labor parliamentary team members ($5000).


One of the most blistering attacks has come from long-serving Labor councillor David Hinchliffe, who retired last Saturday and railed against the party’s “thugs and villains” and factionalism.

In recent weeks, former premier Peter Beattie has described the ALP brand as “damaged” while federal Coalition leader Tony Abbott said it was toxic.

Ms Palaszczuk said the party was determined to rebuild, but she criticised people talking about the battered Labor “brand”.

“One example I wish to note tonight is the constant use of the term ‘brand’ when discussing the Labor party and where it went wrong,” she told the audience at the QCU’s Labour Day Dinner in Brisbane.

“I think the term ‘brand’ is marketing jargon more appropriate to selling toothpaste, biscuits or some other consumer product.

“The rationale seems to be if we get the marketing of the Labor ‘brand’ right, we are home and hosed.

I think the term ‘brand’ is marketing jargon more appropriate to selling toothpaste, biscuits or some other consumer product

“To me that’s a far too clinical approach and it is the wrong approach.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the Labor Party had “never been just a ‘brand’ to be marketed” and had always been “a living, breathing party” focused on equality, fairness and opportunity.

“Labor’s policies and principles should always be about people,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said the Labor Party was “down but not out” following the state election loss, the scale of which some would have considered unimaginable.

“We let [voters] down by not listening enough to them and their concerns,” she told the audience.

“We let you down by not heeding your complaints on issues like asset sales.

“For that I have apologised and committed the parliamentary team to never repeating those fundamental mistakes.”

Yesterday, Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin backed the idea of US-style “primaries” to allow registered Labor supporters to help choose the next Brisbane Labor lord mayoral candidate.

Former New South Wales deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt, Keating government minister Michael Lee and party national secretary George Wright have been commissioned to review the party’s performance at the state election.

Meanwhile, Liberal National Party candidate for South Brisbane Clem Grehan said he had phoned Labor’s Jackie Trad on Thursday to concede defeat following Saturday’s closely fought by-election.

The election was triggered by the sudden post-election resignation of defeated premier Anna Bligh.

Mr Grehan said he appealed for Ms Trad “to focus 100 per cent on representing the electorate rather than the post-election review and retribution that’s preoccupying Labor”.