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Labor Party learns from ‘recent mistakes’

Labor today will pledge policies to boost productivity to pay for election promises in an acknowledgment of “recent mistakes”.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will promise a “new impetus” to the economic legacy of reform and growth left by former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

In a speech in Queensland broadly outlining economic policy, Mr Albanese will nominate priorities of increased productivity, further micro-economic reform and infrastructure projects expected to accelerate growth.

And he will frame the Labor rejection of government bids to toughen laws related to trade unions, by branding the legislation an obstacle to productivity growth.

“Yes, Labor has learned the lessons from our recent mistakes,” Mr Albanese will say in the speech. “But importantly, Labor hasn’t forgotten the lessons of our historic, nation changing successes either.”

He did not itemise the “recent mistakes” but it is understood to be a reference to the bulky tax package and climate change policies which contributed to the party’s unsuccessful May 18 election campaign.

Mr Albanese also will criticise the wage bargaining system, indicating he believed it was out of date.

“The fact is workers have not benefited from the modest boost in productivity because we have an industrial relations system where enterprise bargaining is not delivering real wage improvements,” he will say.

“We have a government obsessed with attacking the fundamental right of trades unions to exist through measures such as the Ensuring Integrity Bill, which will exacerbate the problem, not resolve it.”

But his paramount criticism will be aimed at the policies of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“When Labor left office in 2013, annual productivity growth averaged 2.2 per cent. Under the Coalition this has halved,” he will say.

“In the last two quarters it has actually gone backwards. We are in a productivity recession.”

While praising the Labor power pair, Mr Albanese will say their legacy has been exhausted over time and needs to be revived.

He will say they liberalised financial markets, removed tariffs and trade protection, introduced competition policy and gave national leadership.

“Through the sheer power of their actions, they reminded us all that there is a natural and central role for the state,” he will say.

“But we have now reached the limits of the Hawke-Keating reforms. And new challenges require new impetus.”

Mr Albanese will outline a partnership with business, unions and civil society.

“But I want the productivity debate to be much more than a one-dimensional focus on industrial relations and work practices,” he will say.

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