Former Bass MHR Ross Hart says Labor should not shy away from a big policy agenda to address inequality and create jobs at the next federal election, but it needs to ensure its policies are articulated properly.
A review into Labor's unexpected May election loss was released on Thursday, and highlighted issues around the party's failure to adapt to changing circumstances, and the unpopularity of former leader Bill Shorten.
Mr Hart was among the Labor MHRs to be unseated at the election, losing by just under 600 votes.
He said it was clear that some policies - particularly with franking credits - were poorly explained and allowed the Liberal Party to capitalise, framing Labor as unfair.
"We were talking about a fairness agenda, and the other side of politics was able to say our franking credits policy was unfair," Mr Hart said.
"You've created this landscape of fairness, and then a group of people say they're losing an entitlement. What I was disappointed with is that I've had multiple reports of people who never owned shares believing they were losing something.
"That means we hadn't explained our policy adequately.
"The Liberals were allowed to get away with saying they're the better economic managers despite all the evidence to the contrary, including the doubling of the debt. We should've been much better at explaining that. That's a collective responsibility. That most definitely won't be the case in the future."
MORE ON THE 2019 ELECTION:
- Archer breaks Hart: Bass goes blue as another sitting MP loses their seat
- Booth by booth: Where Bass was won and lost in the 2019 federal election
- Labor leader Albanese looks for election answers in Bass just weeks after election
- Bill Shorten points to fear campaigns and mixed messages in Bass and Braddon defeats
- Labor review: Party would have lost Lyons if not for Liberal candidate social media gaffes
In Bass, Labor put forward policies regarding jobs in renewable energy, food production, the Launceston General Hospital and health generally, but was hit hard by its funding promise for Mona and a Tasmanian AFL team.
Mr Hart said there was dishonesty from the coalition regarding the AFL promise - particularly in light of the establishment of the AFL taskforce for Hobart and Launceston - but that was to be expected in politics.
He agreed with the review when it said Labor was too slow to react to negative feedback.
"I didn't ignore concerns. I expressed those concerns through the appropriate channels through my caucus colleagues," Mr Hart said.
"There were people who arguably voted against their interests, who thought they'd lose money even though they would benefit from Labor policies."
Former leader Bill Shorten made minimal visits to Bass during the campaign, and the review found he was largely unpopular in the electorate.
Mr Hart disagreed that Mr Shorten was unpopular on a personal level, and he would have liked to have the leader in Bass more during the campaign.
"I would've liked to see him in Bass more... I think Bass deserves the attention," he said.
"It's not for wont of trying. We put in, during the course of the campaign, requests for lots of people to come down here."
On election night on May 18, there was an overwhelming sense of shock among Labor supporters who gathered at the Inveresk Bowling Club to watch the count.
Mr Hart said they went into the campaign believing it was a "50-50" contest, and Bass had proved itself volatile in the past.
He said Labor needed to keep pursuing a big policy agenda to address inequality in order to win back voters who appeared to have abandoned the party.
"We need to take people into our confidence. We shouldn't shy away from a big policy agenda," Mr Hart said.
"The focus will need to be on the economy and jobs... clearly around renewables, hydrogen, the future of Bell Bay, food production, advanced manufacturing, the university - these are common themes we've talked about in the past.
"If our agenda is to combat inequality, then we should never keep quiet about that."
And when it comes to the next federal election, likely to be held in 2022, Mr Hart said he had already been sounded out for another run.
"The decision will be made at the appropriate time," he said.