Anthony Albanese has been grilled over his attempts to link himself with the Hawke Government despite his public opposition to Labor’s 1980s economic reforms.
Anthony Albanese has been forced to defend his comments claiming he was an economic advisor to the Hawke Government as questions swirl around the Labor leader’s policy credentials.
Mr Albanese tried to link himself with the widely popular economic reforms under Bob Hawke in the 1980s on Tuesday as he attempted to move away from his blunder over the cash and unemployment rates.
Arguing that he was suitably equipped to handle the budget and Australia’s soaring debt, Mr Albanese pointed to his economics degree from the University of Sydney before becoming an “economic policy advisor” to Mr Hawke.
While the current Labor leader did join the Hawke Government 1985, his official parliamentary biography showed he worked as a research officer for Tom Uren until 1989.
Stream more election news live & on demand with Flash. 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer ends October 31, 2022
Mr Uren – who died in 2015 – was a minister for territories and local government and later for administrative services, but never once served in Cabinet under Mr Hawke and did not hold a role in forming economic policy in the government.
Mr Albanese was immediately grilled on his vague connection to the Hawke Government at a press conference in Melbourne on Wednesday after he announced 50 new Medicare urgent care clinics.
“Do you think that your role as a research officer for Tom Uren really constitutes an economic advisor to the Hawke Government,” asked The Australian’s Olivia Caisley asked.
“And how do you reconcile your opposition to make economic reforms at the time with your attempts to align yourself with them now?” she continued.
Mr Albanese backtracked on his original claim and said he was “employed as an economic policy advisor to a minister in the Hawke government”.
“That is not a surprise. That is just a fact,” he said.
But Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell immediately hit back and said his assertion was “a bit disingenuous” given Mr Uren was “very much on left, a socialist”.
“If you look at the relationship between Paul Keating and Tom Uren, I assure you they had seats next to each other and they had a fantastic relationship.”
Former prime minister Bob Hawke also rejected Mr Albanese’s version of history, telling a breakfast campaign event in Perth on Tuesday that the Labor leader was one of Mr Hawke’s strongest critics.
“There used to be furious debates at Labor Party conferences and the left wing of the Labor Party – of which Mr Albanese was a fully-fledged member in those days,” he said.
“Now I’m sure later on that was all sort of mulled over and forgotten about and now he’s a fully paid-up subscriber to the Labor belief that everything Bob Hawke did was absolutely marvelous.”
In the a recent biography of Mr Hawke – Bob Hawke: Demons and Destiny – The Australian’s Troy Bramston outlined exactly how critical Mr Albanese was of the 1980s Labor government.
“Anthony Albanese, a delegate to the national conference, was among those in the Left who voted to return to a regulated exchange rate,” Bramston writes.
“Albanese opposed many of the major reforms of the period, from fiscal consolidation and privatization to cutting tariffs, exporting uranium and introducing HECS.”