News Shorten reveals first move if elected prime minister
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Shorten reveals first move if elected prime minister

Bill Shorten election
Bill Shorten fires a shot as the campaign cease fire is called off before Easter. Photo: AAP
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Bill Shorten will reverse cuts to penalty rates as his first priority if elected to government, vowing to “restore wages to workers” within 100 days.

Speaking in Melbourne on Saturday, Mr Shorten reignited the debate on penalty rates, saying the election was a referendum on wages.

He said Australian workers had experienced the lowest wages growth on record and accused the Morrison government of planning more penalty rates cuts.

Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten are kicking their federal election campaigns back into gear after calling a Good Friday truce.

The prime minister and opposition leader hit the hustings on Saturday, squeezing in one day of campaigning before downing tools again on Easter Sunday.

Mr Morrison started the day in Sydney, zeroing in on health with a $165 million promise to help clinical trials in the country and find a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Mr Shorten is focusing on penalty rate cuts while setting off from Melbourne on Saturday.

Clinical trials for medicines and treatment in remote, rural and remote Australia will get $100 million if the coalition wins the May 18 poll.

“Rural patients with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses often have it twice as hard, spending much of their life on the road to get the treatment they need and deserve,” Mr Morrison said.

The coalition is also promising a $65 million for a dedicated cystic fibrosis specialist unit at Sydney’s Westmead Health and Education Precinct.

Addressing cameras in Sydney, Mr Morrison said more than 2000 medicines had been listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme including a key cystic fibrosis medicine Orkambi.

He said bulk-billing rates had risen 85 per cent under the Coalition government.

Mr Morrison said only a federal government that knew how to “manage money” could manage the health system.

Labor has calculated hospitality, retail and pharmacy workers will be hundreds of dollars worse off over the 10-day Easter period because of cuts to their penalty rates.

Mr Shorten is laying blame for the cuts at the feet of the prime minister, who voted in favour of reducing the rates eight times.

“Penalty rates are not a luxury – they help people put food on the table and petrol in the car,” he said.

Overnight, the major parties both scrambled to take down sponsored Facebook ads, given their leaders had agreed to refrain from all advertising on Friday and Sunday.