The polls for Federal Labor are trending up, the government is in election hangover mode, the economy’s off the boil and possibly heading off the rails. So things are looking just fine for the ALP, right?

Wrong. That’s according to one who should know, Labor’s impeccably groomed Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure & Industrial Relations, Stephen Smith. In an internal party report that’s fallen into Crikey’s hands, the slicker half of Labor’s Glimmer Twins doesn’t hold back on his assessment of last October’s election debacle:

“When Kim became Federal leader on 28 January, our first task was to regain political respectability,” writes Smith. “No one in the Party should underestimate just how far we had sunk in the eyes of the community in this regard…”

Fortunately, reports Smith, with Mark Latham now safely out of the way, Bomber Beazley firmly at the helm and smart suits like Smith and Treasury spokesman Wayne Swan taking over from Mark Latham and Simon Crean, everyone’s feeling hale and hearty.

Smith’s 12-page report to Perth Electorate Council delegates makes earnest reading. “Kim’s leadership was certainly a morale booster to the State Party and the State campaign, just as victory at the State level was a morale booster to us at Federal level,” writes Smith. “Last weekend’s Werriwa by election was also a morale booster for us.”

The Labor team has been holding the Howard Government to account “in a concerted, coherent united and disciplined way,” he reports, while scoffing at last week’s announcement by the PM of an infrastructure committee. Labor, he says, will focus on making infrastructure investment more attractive for super funds.

“Australia’s superannuation funds are risk-averse and tend to have a short-term horizon,” he writes. “Currently, they tend not to invest in building infrastructure (though they invest in the revenue streams from user-pays infrastructure once built), because they see construction as risky and the returns from most infrastructure as low.”

We’ll spare you further details, but in the interests of full disclosure and filling your Easter with political puffery, we will forward a full copy of The Smith Report to the first 20 subscribers who email our political bureau: [email protected]

And no, second prize is NOT two copies of the report.

Peter Fray

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