Bill Shorten has put age discrimination on the agenda at his official campaign launch with a tax cut for bosses who offer over 55s a second chance.
Mr Shorten vowed Labor would not bow to Scott Morrison’s scare campaign on climate change as two new polls showed Labor remains on track for a narrow victory.
Announcing five new policies, including a $2 billion crackdown on multinationals avoiding tax, tax relief for small businesses that create opportunities for the unemployed, seniors, carers, and parents returning to work, the Opposition Leader declared Labor united and ready to govern.
He vowed Labor would not bow to Scott Morrison’s scare campaign on climate change.
“The choice is clear. You can have cowardice and chaos on climate change or courage and action. There is the choice for every citizen of our great nation,’’ Mr Shorten said.
“Three more years of smug, smirking, unfair complacency under the conservatives, or a bolder, better and more equal future for Australia under a new Labor Government
The election race is tight, as Newspoll found the two-party preferred result is unchanged at 51-49.
The IPSOS/Nine poll also found the race is tightening to 52-48, a closer result than its previous poll.
The biggest move in the IPSOS poll was in the preferred prime minister, with Mr Shorten jumping five points to 40 per cent, just five per cent behind of Mr Morrison.
The Newspoll showed Mr Morrison leading Mr Shorten as preferred prime minister at 46 per cent to 35 per cent.
Mr Shorten said that at every town hall meeting he attended there was often “very well dressed, quiet, older people” clutching their CV in a plastic sleeve.
“You can see it in their eyes. There’s a sting of rejection. There’s a sense of injustice. This recurring question, ‘Why won’t someone give them a chance?’ ” he said.
“How did Australia come to be a country where once you’re 55 and 60, you’re just wiped?”
Five leaders of the Labor Party together today supporting the election of the next Labor Government. pic.twitter.com/aF6myPB7ns
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) May 5, 2019
To address this, Mr Shorten said small businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million will be able to claim an additional 30 per cent tax deduction – capped at $50,000 for each business – on salary for up to five employees.
Parents and carers returning to work, the unemployed and over-55s will qualify as new hires.
Shorten: PM is telling voters ‘You don’t deserve it’
Mr Shorten countered one of the Liberal Party’s core campaign messages: Australia cannot afford a Bill Shorten government.
The Labor leader said Scott Morrison was actually telling families ‘You don’t deserve that’.
“Whenever this business-as-usual, threadbare-policy mob are confronted with a new idea, a good policy, a clear plan, they always look for an excuse to say no. They say, ‘Australia can’t afford that’.
“They say it while they give multinationals a free ride. They say that while they subsidise property investors to make a loss on their sixth house. They say that while they send tax refund cheques to people who didn’t pay income tax. And they say it while working behind the scenes, to spend tens of billions of dollars of tax cuts on the top end of town.”
Australia a ‘tax doormat’
Mr Shorten pledged to stop Australia “being treated as a doormat by tax-avoiding multinationals”.
Labor confirmed it will deny multinationals a tax deduction for royalties when they are paid, and will task Treasury to work with the Australian Taxation Office on stopping strategies companies use to dodge tax.
“Teachers, nurses and tradies have to pay their fair share of tax. They don’t have the luxury of using special loopholes to minimise their tax. It’s time multinationals paid their fair share too,” Mr Shorten said.
Cowardice or courage on climate change
Mr Shorten said Labor would choose hope over fear on climate change policy.
“The choice is clear. You can have cowardice and chaos on climate change, or courage and action,’’ Mr Shorten said.
“I will not bring lumps of coal to Parliament for a laugh, while temperatures soar and bushfires rage and flood and drought batter our land. We are choosing the future over the past.”
Era of coal ‘all over’: Keating
Speaking after the launch, former PM Paul Keating declared the era of coal is “all over”.
“Coal is the fuel of the industrial revolution 250 years ago. It’s all over,” he said.
“There’s the prime minister walking around with a lump of coal. Coal is a fossil. The Prime Minister is a fossil himself, a fossil with a baseball cap, but a fossil.
“The world will stop using fossil fuels. It’s as simple as that.
“The cost of renewables has come down 90 per cent in about 15 years. I mean, continental Australia is one of the hot plates of the world. You can almost fry an egg on any footpath or any roadway at any time in this country.”
- Read more about Sunday on the campaign trail here
Mr Shorten was introduced by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Senate leader Penny Wong, his wife Chloe Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.
Ms Wong took aim at Mr Morrison’s deals with One Nation.
“Just this morning, Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer by the way, he defended those deals by declaring unless you are in jail, you can run for office. Well, don’t you think Australians deserve better than that?’’ Ms Wong said.
Earlier, Chloe Shorten said her husband was a “man for others”.
“In our life together … I’ve seen what a great listener Bill is,’’ she said.
“Especially to those without power. He is truly a man for others. And what a strong advocate for people without a platform. Without newspapers to speak for them. Without lobby groups to represent them.”
Sharpen the argument on wages
Mr Shorten said he wanted to “sharpen the argument” on wages because no full-time worker should be trapped in poverty.
“No Australian adult who works full-time should be trapped in poverty. Labor rejects an American-style wages system, where working people have to rely on tips just to make ends meet,” he said.
“Our great country needs real change. Because more of the same is simply not good enough for Australians.
“Our priority is not making the rich very richer. It is getting wages moving again for working people, starting with laws to reinstate our penalty rates in the first 100 days.”