AS PRIME Minister Julia Gillard starts the political year embroiled in controversy about gambling and her credibility, she will leave the government's main Australia Day speech to a senior cabinet minister.
Anthony Albanese, who is Leader of the House, will hammer home the message that the government has plenty of reform runs on the board and is determined to get more when he addresses the National Press Club today.
In 2010, then prime minister Kevin Rudd marked the occasion with a week of addresses around the country. Last year, after the devastation brought by natural disaster, Ms Gillard gave a fairly modest speech.
This year she is not giving any major political address in the run-up to Australia Day. Today she attends a morning tea and tonight will present the Australian of the Year awards.
Mr Albanese will say that at the heart of Labor philosophy is the Australian concept of a fair go. Historically, all Labor's transformative reforms have been hard won, he will say, often against strident opposition from the conservatives for example, the pension system, workplace reforms, Medicare and superannuation. But once they became entrenched, people fought against their removal.
He will place the present Labor government very much in this reforming tradition and will highlight its economic, environmental and social achievements. These include its handling of the financial crisis, carbon price, health system changes and establishment of a paid parental leave scheme.
Labor believes "opportunity enhanced is better than privilege entrenched".
Mr Albanese will strongly attack Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who "seeks political power because he thinks it is his right". Mr Abbott, who is not giving a major address before Australia Day, will deliver a speech to the Press Club next week.