Australia defeated party urged to keep strong climate policy

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An opposition review of the Australian conservative government's shock election win has urged the dispirited Labor Party to stick with strong policies on climate change.

Senior Labor Party figures Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill on Thursday released their report on the reasons why their center-left party lost the May election against the expectations of opinions polls, bookmakers and most federal lawmakers.

One of the major policy differences between Prime Minister Scott Morrison's coalition and Labor was climate change. Labor had pledge to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2050. The coalition has committed to reduce emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030 and warned that Labor's more ambitious target would wreck the economy.

The 90-page report said Labor needed to increase public awareness of the costs of inaction on climate change, respect workers in Australia's coal and gas industries and reduce electricity prices.

"The Labor Party must continue to stand for strong action on climate change," Weatherill told reporters. "We believe that this is a bedrock principle for the Labor Party and cannot be abandoned."

Emerson said Labor must continue to support policies that tackle climate change without creating perceptions that such policies "might adversely affect people."

The report leaves the party to decide those new policies.

The review blames Labor's loss on unpopular former opposition leader Bill Shorten, a cluttered policy agenda and the party's failure to adapt its strategy after Morrison replaced former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the face of dismal opinion polling in August last year.

Shorten was replaced by Anthony Albanese as opposition leader after the election.