'Nothing To Crow About': Turnbull Addresses Labor's By-Election Wins
The Prime Minister will 'humbly' rethink some of his government's policies.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the Labor Party has "nothing to crow about", following its Super Saturday successes, but vows the Coalition will look very seriously at how voters reacted.
Malcolm Turnbull downplayed Labor's wins in four of the five contested seats in Braddon, Longman, Perth and Fremantle in Saturday's by-elections, despite leader Bill Shorten calling the results a signpost for a Labor government after the next general election.
"I see that Bill Shorten is punching the air as though he has won the World Cup," Turnbull told reporters on Sunday.
"There's not a lot to celebrate for the Labor Party. There is certainly nothing to crow about."
The results saw the Queensland seat of Longman and the Tasmanian seat of Braddon remain in Labor's hands, despite eight weeks of campaigning.
Liberal candidate Georgina Downer was also defeated by Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie in the South Australian seat of Mayo, meaning Turnbull failed to lead his candidates to victory at any of the three elections the Liberals competed in.
In Longman, the LNP's Trevor Ruthenberg suffered a ten percent swing against the coalition. Turnbull said the result was "nothing remarkable".
"Well , the reality is, what the Labor Party has secured is an average or conventional swing in a by-election to it in Longman, and has not secured any swing at all in Braddon," Turnbull said.
"I can assure you that when we come to the federal campaign, Australians will see there is a very clear choice."
The Prime Minister reaffirmed that historically governments lose ground in by-elections, and typically suffer swings against them.
"I have always said that history is against us. I have never given any indications that we expected to win these by-elections," he said.
"The important thing is now these citizenship issues have been dealt with and we will continue with getting on with delivering the strong economic growth, record jobs growth, more investment, higher wages ... That's our commitment and that's what we'll continue to do."
Labor had framed the by-elections as a choice between "hospitals and the big banks", taking aim at the government's plan to cut taxes for big business.
Turnbull pledged to look "seriously, thoughtfully and humbly" at the results, but said the government remained committed to ensuring Australia has a competitive company tax rate.
Senior Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne earlier on Sunday told the ABC the government would re-introduce debate on company tax cuts to the Senate when Parliament returns.
"We will attempt to pass these company tax cuts in the spring session and we'll work with the Senate crossbench to make that happen," he said.
At a media conference on Sunday, Shorten said the results of the by-elections proved more voters cared about basic services and the cost of living.
"They want to see better hospitals, not bigger banks. They want to see pensioners prioritised ... they don't want to see large corporations get a tax cut," he said.
"If Malcolm Turnbull thinks Australians are happy with the healthcare system, then he's more out of touch than I could have imagined. This fellow Turnbull is Australia's number one finger pointer."