Will the ALP hear its prophet of doom?
HISTORIANS may look back on this era of federal politics as yet another time where the ALP dashed itself to pieces on the rocks, while a Coalition government won the minds - if not the hearts - of the people with an effective enough management of the coronavirus pandemic.
Politics is never about one subject, but some themes will dominate. For the Coalition, at present, it's COVID-19.
For the ALP, starved of political oxygen by the nature of the times, it is again the divisive politics of climate change, within a broader battle for direction in a once proud "workers' party".
Late last year, Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon staged a spectacular walk-out from the opposition front bench - a move that was later exposed as less spontaneous than it might have first looked, given he was about to lose his place in a factional deal anyway.
On this issue: Fitzgibbon quits shadow cabinet
Freed from the constraints of shadow ministry, the veteran MP is determinedly making his voice heard, this time over some negative polling that is said to show Labor in danger in the Hunter Region seats of Shortland and Paterson.
Shortland is Labor heartland, held by Pat Conroy, who replaced Greg Combet, originally in the seat of Charlton, which was abolished in a redistribution. Paterson, held by Meryl Swanson, is a more marginal proposition, regardless of any tinkering around the edges with boundary changes.
If Labor's vote is down in these seats, Mr Fitzgibbon faces a real threat in his own electorate, but from One Nation rather than the Liberals.
One Nation's Stuart Bonds: Joel Fitzgibbon 'knows he is gone'
Coalminer Stuart Bonds is running again after coming third on preferences in 2019, and has Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts with him later this week on a "listen to the locals" tour.
Anthony Albanese, who entered parliament in 1996 with Mr Fitzgibbon, is struggling to cut through as opposition leader.
Even after the legitimacy of his "miracle' 2019 election victory, no-one pretends that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a popular leader.
Yet Labor appears unable to land a glove on him, something that strategists on both sides are well aware of.
Mr Fitzgibbon says the answer lies in "putting labour back in the Labor Party".
Some would say the avuncular "Albo" already comes across as a paragon of "old" Labor, and many of Mr Fitzgibbon's colleagues disagree with his assessment.
But you can bet they can hear the beat of the drums, and the sharpening of knives.
- The original version of this editorial incorrectly stated Charlton MP Pat Conroy was parachuted in to replace Greg Combet. Mr Conroy, who had worked in Mr Combet's office, won a rank and file preselection for the seat in 2013. He was preselected for his present seat, Shortland, after Charlton was abolished in a redistribution before the 2016 election.
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