Why Albo needs to be more like Palaszczuk
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese must visit coalmines and follow the playbook of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk if Labor is to win back Queensland voters, as the party's climate rift further exposes leadership tensions.
Maverick NSW MP Joel Fitzgibbon used his first full day on the back bench to deliver a shot at the Labor leader's inability to connect with voters in the vital battleground.
Mr Fitzgibbon said Mr Albanese had to follow the blueprint of the Queensland Premier's successful election campaign, balancing "sufficiently progressive environmental policies" for city voters while winning back the "high-vis vote in central and north Queensland".
"Annastacia Palaszczuk went out there with the high-vis, she held their hand and she reassured them," he said.
"That's all I want Labor to do but they just don't do it."
Some MPs in the party are privately backing Mr Fitzgibbon, saying he has considerable support, calling for a return of the post-election Albo who promised to reach out to coal workers, religious groups and end the class warfare.
And his move to the backbench has spooked some in the Coalition, with news of his resignation rippling around the joint party room on Tuesday morning.
Former deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce delivered a warning to colleagues, saying Mr Fitzgibbon's move was dangerous and they would have to "nuance our political message".
"It's a concern for us because now he's off the leash," he said.
"Tactically, if the Labor Party sticks with their current policy platform that's good for us, but if they swing towards Joel that certainly makes it more competitive."
There is a view among some Labor MPs that Mr Albanese needs to pivot back to trying to win over central Queensland seats, saying they can still win the next election with the right policies.
But Mr Albanese's supporters say there is little difference between what Mr Fitzgibbon's supporters want and what the Opposition Leader is already saying.
Tensions rose in the party as Melbourne-based Mark Dreyfus accused Mr Fitzgibbon of being out of step with the party, and failing to recognise the importance of Joe Biden's election in the US and what it meant for climate change policy.
"Joel is out of step, he's out of step with not only the Labor Party he's out of step with thinking across Australia - in the regions, in the cities," Mr Dreyfus said.
Mr Fitzgibbon branded this "the cheesecloth brigade" trying to push for more ambitious climate targets.
"Has Anthony Albanese visited a coalmine since he became leader, no, has he visited a gas project, no, has he visited an abattoir, no," he said.
One MP said Mr Albanese had started taking the party back to the centre after the election, but suggested that had changed this year.
A Labor MP said "high-vis" workers walked away from Labor in 2019, but returned in Queensland under Ms Palaszczuk's jobs-focused policies, including backing a coalmine.
Member for Moreton Graham Perrett said while he respected Mr Fitzgibbon, Labor was a party of consensus.
"I understand Joel is campaigning for his region, but we have to accept the science and the facts. We can't stick our heads in the sand," he said.
"We need to focus on jobs for Queenslanders and Australians."
Queensland senator Murray Watt said Mr Albanese backed Queensland jobs.
"Anyone who's been listening knows he backs our huge resources industry as well as our world-class renewables," Senator Watt said.
Originally published as Why Albo needs to be more like Palaszczuk