Labor in the air tonight. Turning back asylum seeker boats was the hot topic at the Queensberry Hotel in Carlton last night, as members of Labor Left started their national conference weekend with a fundraiser for candidate Sophie Ismail. The small room was packed with rusted-on Labor types, as well as a strong showing of students to hear Anthony Albanese voice his opposition to Bill Shorten’s announcement that he wanted Labor to adopt a policy of turning back asylum seeker boats. Albanese’s words got a good reaction in the room, with Ismail also saying that she opposed turnbacks. He did however court controversy by saying that he was no fan of musician Phil Collins, saying “everything he’s done is shit”. Albo was very popular as he worked the room, but Crikey was snubbed. Ouch, Albo.

The official proceedings kicked off this morning, with Bill Shorten inexpertly channelling Julia Gillard and telling the party faithful he had a three-word slogan for Prime Minister Tony Abbott: “bring it on”. On the topic of slogans, we were left wondering if the slogan picked for the conference was a bit of an afterthought. “Advance Australia” read the big screens and the lectern. Are they missing the last word, we wondered. But no, it seems to be on purpose.Crikey will be live blogging the Labor National Conference all weekend, bringing you all the ins and outs of the debates and votes.

Also at the conference is the Fringe program, which includes this merchandise stall. It features an apron bearing a cartoon of Paul Keating — as well as some of his more choice insults. We hoped there would be a T-shirt with some of Shorten’s zingers, but it was not to be. Maybe next time?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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