Transcript - 6PR Weekend Breakfast

6PR WEEKEND BREAKFAST with Michael Genovese and Carmen Braidwood 


SUBJECTS: ALP Election Review 

MICHAEL GENOVESE, HOST: Well it was the unlosable election back in May and Labor lost – we all know the outcome. What we didn’t know while many speculated and had their own opinions but it’s formally been reviewed and that’s been released this week. Matt Keogh is the ALP’s Member for Burt here in WA and joins us now. Good Morning Matt.

MATT KEOGH MP: Good Morning!

GENOVESE: Thanks for joining us. Do you agree with the review’s findings and recommendations this week?

KEOGH: Yeah I do agree with the findings that have been handed down. It was troubling reading I think there were things in there that we probably expected and there were things in there that were quite shocking. I think not only Labor members of Parliament and candidates but also Labor supporters across the country probably are reeling a little bit but I think there is some important home truths and important recommendations especially in the review that’s been handed down and it’s incumbent now that instead of dwelling on the past that critically we take up those findings and recommendations and that we move forward because that’s what people expect us to do. We don’t want to see a party that’s just focused on itself; we need to move forward for the Australian people, picking up the recommendations and findings that have been made in the review.

GENOVESE: Yeah, the review found you were on the nose with Chinese Australians, Queenslanders, coal miners, Christians and the party tipped it could win 5 seats in WA and didn’t win back any of those. What do you make of that?

KEOGH: Well I think what’s telling about that is the observation generally in the lead up to the last election were our policies were not resonating and possibly aggravating some groups in the community. I think the reality is if we’re going to be a progressive, centre left party we need to own that centre space and that means not aggravating or picking sides, rather bringing people together, it means trying to work with the entire nation. That’s not only a pathway to success, it’s about being a good Government going forward and that’s very important.

CARMEN BRAIDWOOD, HOST: Simon Beaumont, one of our colleagues here at 6PR noticed with “bemusement” in his words that Bill Shorten’s union ties were not mentioned in the review. Do you think the union connection to Bill caused a problem for the ALP?

KEOGH: I actually think in talking about Bill, and the report refers to this – there were some elements of unpopularity and we saw that – as much as we can trust the polling – we saw that all the way through that there was an element of Bill being unpopular and people not warming to him. Now the review doesn’t go into all the ins and outs as to why that might have been, obviously some people have prejudice against unions and the union movement, obviously some people were very put out by the reporting on Bills engagement with the changes of leadership and Prime Minister when Labor was last in Government. There are probably many factors as to why people didn’t warm to Bill but at the end of the day that’s probably not the area of focus we need to look at from this review because Bill’s not the leader any more. Bill has stood up and taken responsibility for his part in the election loss and I think rightly so, it’s good to see Bill has refocused his attentions on the NDIS, that he was a part of creating actually delivers now for what Australians need. You might be able to hear the background noise – I’m at a mobile office in Canning Vale at the moment and I’ve literally just been speaking to someone who has issues with the NDIS so I think it’s great that Bill has refocused his attention on that because it’s a very important issue but as I say Bill’s no longer the leader so there’s no real point focusing on why he was or wasn’t unpopular, it’s important we learn the lessons of the review.

GENOVESE: Labor was aware of how unpopular he was for some time. Was it an elephant in the room in high ranking meetings? Was there any plan to deal with that or try and counter it? My other question before we move on from Bill – How’s he going with it? This is pretty scathing.

KEOGH: Look I think any human would take any loss like that badly and I think it’s fair to say Bill hasn’t enjoyed not only the loss of the election but the way in which there has been quite a bit of focus on his personal performance and engagement in that. Having said that, as I say, he’s now focused his attentions and energies into his new portfolio area and moving forward in that way and I think that’s a very positive thing. I don’t think Bill’s popularity was the elephant in the room, there’s probably the bigger problem that was alluded to and discussed in the review and that’s that because we had this false positive of polling data. If you like - things like Bill’s lack of polling popularity, there were a range of issues – the way we were discussing issues, the way certain policies were proposed. Even though people could see negatives around them, they were not ignored, however it was assumed they were baked into the polling that we were seeing in the published polls. If you’re continually seeing we were 52 / 48 or 51 / 49 we were ahead, and that’s weeks or months after, well years after Bill became leader but also as new policies were being rolled out we were thinking ok there’s a lot of people who might not like this but there’s enough that were prepared to vote for us and clearly that polling was absolutely wrong. That was a false positive and it meant that things we might have looked at otherwise in a more neutral environment, that we might have thought about more or recalibrated based on the feedback we were getting in our own electorates and that’s a big lesson from the election.

GENOVESE: What does Labor need to do to win voters here in WA next time? Your seat in particular, Burt – the review found that support was lost between 25 and 34 year olds living in outer urban and regional areas and your seat include the likes of Armadale and Canning Vale where you are today. What do you need to do to win those 25 – 34 year olds?

KEOGH: I think the review sets this out pretty clearly. We need to get back to, what I think, are the basics for Labor. We need to be sure that people understand that Labor is the party for them because fundamentally we are concerned about the same things they are. Things like job security, economic prosperity, that wages are growing and we understand that their finances are suffering because of the increased cost of living. It’s really basic stuff fundamentally. I think there is a growing issue of the disparity of the “haves” and “have nots”. It’s a very generic term the “have nots” but people who feel they can’t fully participate or don’t get to fully participate in our society. That the people in leadership don’t speak for, or listen, to them. We need to be clear that we are and can be the party for Australians, particularly for that group of people who chose in the 2016 election to vote for us but in 2019 did not vote for us.

BRAIDWOOD: Yeah and you can be those people’s “people”, their champion, without taking out their employers which is frankly what I saw in the policies in the lead up to the election.

KEOGH: Yes and I think it’s a really important point because I don’t think that’s what our policies did but we absolutely got cast in that way. We let ourselves get cast in a way and we spoke in a way that made it look like that. If there’s one thing I’m very clear on, especially as the Shadow Minister for WA Resources, it’s not only that we have to be, but fundamentally at our core, we are a party that is pro the resources industry, pro-business, because we are a “Labour” party, we are for the workers and those who want to work. That means growing the opportunity for those who want to work, which means supporting our businesses as well.

GENOVESE: Hey Matt, just in terms of, and, thanks for joining us this morning – we’re speaking with Matt Keogh, Federal Member for Burt. There are 22 Shadow Cabinet Members by my count underneath Anthony Albanese, only one of those is from WA in Madeleine King. Are West Aussies getting a voice around the table?

KEOGH: Well I think Labor has recognised what was a lack of Western Australian voice up until the last election; we had no Shadow Cabinet Ministers before the last election. We now have Madeleine but also me in the Shadow Ministry as well as a number of Shadow Assistant Ministers, there is a much stronger WA voice now. What’s important is that we not only have that voice in the leadership which we now do, but also our discourse – not just in campaigns but between now and the next election, is reflective of the Western Australian voice. That Western Australians hear a Western Australian voice from the Labor party and see from Labor that we understand Western Australia – and the unique aspects of Western Australia. We are a pro trade state. We are one of the most engaged with the rest of the world. We are propping up the national economy through our resources industry but there is so much more to Western Australia than our resources industry. I think it’s imperative that if we are going to win the next election, but also for a well-functioning democracy, that we are strong in the West and I think now with Madeleine in the Shadow Cabinet, myself in the Shadow Ministry, we are in a much better position than we were in the lead up to the last election to make sure there’s a strong WA voice in the party and being heard from the party by Western Australians.

BRAIDWOOD: Thanks Matt.

GENOVESE: Good on you Matt, thanks for your time.

KEOGH: Great to be with you guys, thanks a lot.