The NSW Labor conference has endorsed Anthony Albanese’s foreign policy positions on Israel and China, delivering a significant internal victory for the federal leader.

Simon Benson
The Australian
October 10, 2021

This is a clear signal that not only is the Opposition Leader serious about doing what is required to win, the party has finally realised it is possible.

If nothing else, the effective silencing of a byzantine dispute that has dogged the NSW branch for the best part of a decade has revealed a renewed sense of maturity within the NSW branch.

It is also an admission that both are acutely sensitive to the experiences of British Labor’s Jeremy Corbyn.

Albanese has systemically sought to neutralise issues on which he is vulnerable. At the domestic level, it has been taxation. On foreign policy, most notably it has been China.

Albanese has now successfully, and without debate, also cauterised the long-running and bitter internal dispute over Labor policy when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

This isn’t just cosmetic. Albanese has long-held views on the issue that have put him at odds with the party’s pro-Palestinian lobby headed by Bob Carr.

The conference not only endorsed Albanese’s long-standing opposition to the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign, while confirming a two-state solution, it rejected the divisive use of apartheid language that has crept into elements of the party.

Even the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies was surprised by the outcome. “It is good to see the NSW branch of the Labor Party endorse federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s position on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and rejection of the hateful and counterproductive BDS movement,” its chief executive, Darren Bark, said.

“This follows NSW Labor leader Chris Minns’s opposition to the BDS movement earlier this year.”

The NSW move stands in stark contrast to the Queensland Labor conference, which adopted a contrary position that so embarrassed the party that Albanese and foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong were forced to publicly reject it.

The NSW move was about neutralising issues that have hurt Labor in the past and ensuring that Albanese isn’t distracted by noisy debates that most voters aren’t focused on.

It shows that the party is finally getting focused on its electoral prospects, having lost six elections (NSW and federal) in a row.