“There’s a range of seats in Queensland [Labor is targeting] … Leichhardt, Herbert, Flynn, Capricornia, then right down to the outer-suburban seats like Longman, Petrie, Forde. Then you have seats like Brisbane, which is possible,” Mr Albanese said.
“In New South Wales, you have seats like Robertson, Lindsay, Reid, Banks and potentially in the regions, as well, Page and Cowper.”
The Victorian seat of Chisholm is also in his sights, as are Boothby in South Australia and Bass and Braddon in Tasmania.
Mr Albanese acknowledged housing affordability remained a major concern for voters — particularly in Sydney and Melbourne — but would not say whether the party would keep its policy to curb the use of negative gearing, except for new properties.
“We will continue to have discussions about deliberations about tax policy, that’s something that will be fully considered by Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher and the shadow ministry,” he said.
“It’s appropriate that there be proper consideration. One of the things that I’ve been determined to do is to have proper processes in place.”
Labor dumped its franking credits policy, dubbed a “retiree tax” by the government, earlier this month and there is a developing view in the caucus that the negative gearing policy will also be dumped.
Mr Albanese’s message that the party can win the next election has two intended targets: the voters that Labor must win back and despondent MPs who believe Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in the box seat to retain government.
The slogan, “On Your Side”, will be central to Labor’s election message, much as “working families” was Kevin Rudd’s mantra in the lead-up to the 2007 election.
And in a sign that Labor is moving to an election footing, the party’s National Campaign Committee met via video link for the first time last week. There is a growing expectation the poll could be called in the second half of 2021, though it is not due until 2022.
The forthcoming industrial relations policy for workers in the so-called gig economy would “make sure that the growth in the gig economy doesn’t lead to third world conditions in a first world country”, Mr Albanese said.
“We saw before Christmas five deaths of delivery riders…one of the pressures that is on people in driving around delivering, which is something that, you know, people want in terms of the services but if there’s pressure on them to fulfil tasks that aren’t possible, just in order to get an income because there aren’t minimum conditions, then it becomes not just a wages issue but a safety issue,” he said.
Late last year, Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke flagged that the opposition, if elected, could extend the powers of the Fair Work Commission, to ensure that delivery drivers, who are independent contractors, would be granted the same conditions as employees.
Uber Eats is overhauling its business model in Australia to make it harder for critics to claim its workers are employees rather than independent contractors.
Asked if it was time for critics such as backbench MP Joel Fitzgibbon to pull their head in — especially since he had moved Mark Butler out of the climate change portfolio, as had been demanded — Mr Albanese declared his reshuffle “had nothing to do with Joel Fitzgibbon”.
The leader said he had decided to embark on a larger-than-expected reshuffle after time to reflect following a serious car crash in early January — and despite warnings from confidantes of the risk bigger changes could create new enemies.
Mr Albanese said Labor would be ready to fight the election, whenever it was called.
“It’s not up to me to determine when, it’s out of my hands but we will be ready. I’m ready to fight it whenever it is called … if Scott Morrison doesn’t go full term, it’s because he doesn’t have confidence in his own capacity to govern for three years.”
James Massola is political correspondent for the Sun-Herald and The
Sunday Age, based in Canberra. He was previously south-east Asia correspondent, based in Jakarta, and chief political correspondent.