Bill Shorten made a strong challenge for the Lodge at Labor’s campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday, pushing the message that his is the only united team.
There was no greater evidence of this unity than the image of former Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd side by side in the front row, along with Paul Keating. Having spent six years fighting each other for the party leadership the sight of these rivals sharing laughs was unexpected and no doubt a tactical move by Labor to not only highlight their own unity, but to remind voters of the Liberal party’s more recent leadership turmoil.
Senator Pat Dodson, Senator Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek spoke, a clear attempt to highlight Labor’s commitment to diversity, particularly gender equality. Labor again took the opportunity to remind voters of their higher percentage of female candidates, a weak point for the Coalition at this election. In the lower house Labor has a female candidate running in 44% of seats, with the Coalition at only 27%.
Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, used her speech to slam the Coalition for “giving a nod and a wink to the extreme right” in a bid to retain government. She also took aim at their supposed lack of care for diversity and unity in Australia, describing their leadership team as “small men – small men with small ideas”.
Wong took the opportunity to outline why she believes Labor’s plan for Australia is different, stating that they are “truly dedicated to that fundamental Australian value that every one of us is equal. No matter who your parents were, no matter where you were born or who you love.”
Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek spoke glowingly of Bill Shorten and his leadership abilities, heaping praise on how he has brought Labor together as leader. With Shorten a consistently polarising figure with voters, Labor will be hoping some positive talk from the ever popular Plibersek will give him a boost in the polls.
Plibersek didn’t miss her chance to take a few shots at the Prime Minister, describing Scott Morrison as the “failed ad guy” and stating that he “talks so much but he has so little to say”.
The star of the show was, of course, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who entered the room to rapturous applause from the party faithful after being introduced by his so-called secret weapon – wife Chloe.
Shorten used the launch to announce two new major campaign polices.
He announced a new “jobs tax cut” that would see businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million a year who take on a new employee under who is 25 or over 55 years of age, or a parent or carer trying to return to the workforce, able to claim a 30 percent tax deduction.
The other announcement was a reform to stop multinationals from using “dodgy royalties” to avoid paying tax in Australia. The policy will apply to companies who have a global turnover over $1 billion, and Shorten claimed it will save the government $2.3 billion in a decade.
Meanwhile, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham confirmed that the Coalition will hold their campaign launch this Sunday.