Labor on campaign footing and prepared for early election
The earliest the next federal election could be held is August but that has not stopped Labor from getting on a campaign footing.
The opposition has begun putting in place its campaign infrastructure, with plans to “hit the ground running” no matter when Malcolm Turnbull calls the next election, with preselections in targeted states expected to be completed by March and campaign teams established.
Labor has begun internally recruiting for its communications, policy, targeted seats, legal and advertising and research units, with preselections in Western Australia almost finished and Queensland expected to follow suit next month.
“It is early to be starting this,” a Labor insider said. “But I think it indicates just how seriously the party is taking the election. Campaigning in areas we need to win, like Queensland and Western Australia, never really stopped. But this is making sure that the national secretariat, the leader’s office and the states are all on the same page.
“It is about being more coordinated, so there are just clear messages and themes coming out. Despite the year Turnbull had, there is no guarantee that we will win the next election. We have our own challenges in the first half of the year particularly.”
Those “challenges” include an upcoming factional battle for Sam Dastyari’s NSW Senate spot, as well as uncertainty from the referrals of Katy Gallagher and David Feeney to the high court, with the potential for others, including Susan Lamb and Justine Keay, to follow.
That could lead to byelections, which the party acknowledges it is not guaranteed to win.
“It is not going to be smooth sailing for us,” another source said. “Which is why it is so important to be as prepared as possible.”
The double dissolution election Turnbull called in 2016 means the earliest he could call the next election, without hitting the two House trigger a second time, would be August this year. The election can be held anytime before May 2019 and, despite speculation Turnbull’s leadership would not stand up to his party’s internal fractures and ongoing polling losses, Labor leaders do not expect an early election.
“Why would he do it? You only call an election when you think there is a chance you are going to win. So why would you do it?”
Instead, the party plans on using its jumpstart on campaigning by “building our narrative”, which is expected to centre around the party’s work highlighting inequality, including the casualisation of the workforce.
“It’s going to be about getting back to Labor basics, about coming up with solutions for the battlers, and that includes people who have jobs but can’t get enough hours, can’t have job security,” one party source familiar with the plans said. “You can expect that to be a fairly big theme as we go through this year.
“We’ll be working with the unions on it, of course, but it continues what we started at the last election. Negative gearing changes. That sort of thing. It is our point of difference and it matters to people and we should be going further down this path.”_ The Guardian
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