Anthony Albanese faced a hostile television interview about his leadership as he prepares to reshuffle his front bench and stave off any challengers.
The labor leader was grilled on ABC show 7.30 on Wednesday night by veteran journalist Laura Tingle who opened the interview by asking him what he stands for.
Mr Albanese earlier this week copped criticism from former leader Bill Shorten who said his successor doesn’t have enough policies.
Education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek (pictured in May 2019), who many predict will one day lead the Labor Party, has laid out her vision for a post-pandemic future
‘You often ask the question, ”What’s the point of this Government?” What I would like to ask you is, what’s the point of the Albanese Opposition?, Tingle said.
Mr Albanese replied that his main job was ‘to hold the Government to account’ during the Covid-19 pandemic and make sure it was acting in the national interest.
Tingle pressed him further, saying: ‘Can you name an issue that Labor has really owned while you’ve been Leader or where your position is crystal clear?’
The labor leader replied ‘child care’ in reference to his policy of increasing the maximum childcare subsidy from 85 per cent to 90 per cent and removing the annual cap on subsidies for middle and high income families.
‘That’s it?’, asked Tingle before Mr Albanese recalled how he pushed the government to introduce JobKeeper and explained his plans to manufacture trains in Australia, reduce emissions and give First Nations constitutional recognition.
Late last year rumours swirled in Canberra of a potential leadership spill against Mr Albanese as he trailed Scott Morrison in the polls – but no-one has challenged him.
One Labor MP told Daily Mail Australia the party was ‘sleepwalking’ towards its fourth defeat in a row.
But Mr Albanese dismissed any threats to his job, saying: ‘My leadership is secure. I’ll continue to advance a progressive agenda for Labor.’
Ms Plibersek said the party should draw on the achievements of post-war Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley (second left)
Tingle later asked Mr Albanese – who was raised by his single mother in public housing – if he truly had a ‘burning desire’ to be prime minister.
‘My ambition is for Labor to be in Government. My ambition has never been about myself, it’s about what Labor Governments can achieve for the sort of people that I grew up with, the sort of people who need Labor Governments,’ he said.
It comes as Mr Albanese prepared to reshuffle his front bench on Thursday, with controversial climate spokesman Mark Butler, who is a left-faction ally of the leader, set to be dumped from the role.
Former front bencher Joel Fitzgibbon resigned from shadow cabinet in November over fears that Mr Butler’s ambition on climate change would turn off resources sector workers who fear for their jobs.
Mr Albanese told the ABC on Thursday: ‘I think Mark has been somewhat over-enthusiastic in his approach to climate change policy. I believe we should see climate change as not a political opportunity but a policy opportunity.’
Labor’s health spokesman Chris Bowen is tipped to take up the role.
Meanwhile, education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek, who many predict will one day lead the Labor Party, has laid out her vision for a post-pandemic future.
Writing in The Australian newspaper, the member for Sydney said the party should draw on the achievements of post-war Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who reduced unemployment to just two per cent and increase home ownership by 10 per cent.
‘Just as Chifley promised full employment and a family home, today’s leaders should aim higher as we rebuild after the pandemic: full employment, decent wages, job security, dignity in retirement, a strong safety net; a better quality of life for all Australians,’ she wrote.
‘We can expand cheaper, cleaner renewable energy to bring down power bills, boost manufacturing jobs and reduce pollution.’
It comes after Mr Shorten slammed Mr Albanese over his ‘tiny’ policy agenda.
Launching a collection of essays by members of the Labor Right faction, Mr Shorten argued the party must ‘stand for something’ if it wanted to win.
‘I have learnt the lessons of defeat and I have learnt, and the party has learnt, the dangers of taking too large or too cluttered a policy agenda to the electorate… But the polar opposite of a tiny agenda is not the right way either,’ he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has been leading Mr Albanese in the polls all year