What now for Labor?

What now for Labor?

Labor is back in the wilderness after six tumultuous years in government, and it's now time to reflect on what went wrong. 

Labor is back in the wilderness after six tumultuous years in government.


It now has three years to reflect on what went wrong and how it might regain power.


But at Kevin Rudd's election night function in Brisbane, the party faithful were trying to remain optimistic.


Hundreds of Labor Party supporters put a brave face on defeat at Rudd HQ in Brisbane on election night.


There were cheers for the small victories as Labor held seats predicted to fall to the Coalition by opinion polls.


While much talk was of those MPs left standing, there was also heavy reflection on what went wrong.


"My name is Nora Abdallah, I'm originally from Egypt, but I've been here for a lot longer than I was over there. I vote Labor, I have for the past few elections, my family has always voted Labor, I'm a very strong advocate."


Nora Abdallah thinks it is the party's self-inflicted leadership troubles that brought it to its knees.


"That's the one the Opposition have focused on the most, 'Look, they've changed their leadership, they've changed their leadership, they've changed their leadership", and a lot less than their actual policies, that's what I've been getting more than anything."


Long-time Labor support Ian Miller is from Kevin Rudd's electorate of Griffith.


He joined the Labor Party ahead of its decisive victory over conservative John Howard in 2007.


"I just voted Labor but in 2007 I thought was the right time to do a bit more, carry the Labor government into office, sounds bad doesn't it, I didn't mean it in that way."


For Ian Miller, six years has delivered results, but he believes more work needs to be done on selling the message and recognising Labor's roots.


"I mean there's a lot of great policies that have been pushed through by the Julia, Kevin and the Labor government, you know the National Insurance Disability Scheme is wonderful, Gonski reforms to schooling and education, all wonderful, had we had a Liberal government in 2010. I think it needs to promote the positives of the Labor party but also get back to the grass roots where we came from."


While he is critical of the party's leadership tussles, for Ian Miller, the hostility of Rupert Murdoch's media also played a crucial role in the defeat.


"The way that the newspapers owned by a certain individual have treated the Labor government is a travesty of democracy and the person that is perpetrating that act is not even an Australian citizen. I mean he's an American citizen, he renounced Australia, so he could do his paper ownership, and he trashes the Australian Labor government and that is incredibly wrong as far as I'm concerned."


From overseas at Rudd HQ, a former high-profile presidential candidate from Kenya, now living in Australia as a refugee.


After suffering horrific torture at the hands of his government he was granted asylum.


"My name is Quincy Timberlake from the Republic of Kenya, I'm a politician, but because of the crude and traumatising acts of the barbaric politicians, we decided to save our lives and run away, that's why we came here to be protected here."


In Australia since April, Quincy Timberlake is astounded by the Labor Party's internal wrangling.


"They need to put strong policies in their party to ensure once a leader is picked, he has to complete his leadership term, they will regain back the public's hearts."


It took Quincy Timberlake a while to find his way through the Australian political landscape, at first gravitating towards the conservatives.


"Initially I was a member of the Liberal National Party, but I was let down. I wrote a very big support and compassion letter to the right honourable Tony Abbott. He did not respond back to me, maybe because I was an asylum seeker, so I decided to join the ALP because maybe I fitted there."


So far, so good with Labor, but there is one policy he feels needs to be sorted out.


He takes a hard line, supporting the Howard-era policy of temporary protection visas for asylum seekers.


"You can't just bring everyone onshore, I'm not attacking other people, we're all seeking asylum, but some of us are economic migrants, I don't care for that, I'm here for protection. I've been told to stay without work rights, and I appreciate that, because that is not what brought me here, I came here to be protected by the federal government."


The asylum seeker debate is also a priority for Nora Abdallah, but with a more compassionate focus.


"Obviously being a second generation immigrant myself, it is very close to my heart, and I'm not 100 per cent happy with how any party in this election has been dealing with this issue, so that is the major thing for them to regain my vote, even though they technically already have it."


The 19 year old also has concerns for the long-term future, especially one issue she believes Labor should continue to emphasise.


"A lot of youth are more concerned about climate change and the carbon tax than other people would be because obviously it's their future and they are very concerned about where they're going to be in 50 years."


Like many party supporters, Nora Abdallah hopes a spell in opposition will help Labor find its way.


"I think the next three years will be a good time for them to reflect on what things they can refine and what things they can look at more, but you can't please everyone, I can't emphasise that enough."


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