Anthony Albanese has officially launched Labor’s campaign, telling supporters in Perth that his party’s policies on climate, housing and health present voters with a clear and better alternative to the Coalition.
The pitch came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison returned to the issue of online safety, as he sought to shore up and win Sydney seats.
Mr Albanese said the May 21 election presents a choice between “shaping the future or being shaped by it”.
The launch at Perth’s Optus Stadium included new promises on cheaper medicines, electric vehicle charging stations and equity for first home buyers.
“This government has had a decade in office and in another three years the problems we need to fix will be even bigger,” Mr Albanese said.
“We can do better.”
Help to Buy scheme
Housing is likely to be a hot topic this week with the Reserve Bank widely expected to lift the cash rate on Tuesday, for the first time in 12 years.
Labor’s Help to Buy scheme will provide an equity contribution of as much as 40 per cent of the purchase price of a new home and up to 30 per cent for an existing dwelling for 10,000 Australians.
The scheme will enable savings up to $380,000 for new homes and $285,000 for existing ones, with price caps of between $550,000 and $950,000 depending on the state and region.
However, Mr Morrison said the approach was flawed.
“They (the Labor government) will have equity in your home and as your equity goes up, they’re gonna keep it,” he said.
Labor also one-upped the coalition on medicines, announcing drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will cost a maximum of $30, with a $12.50 reduction for general patients.
Gender pay equity will become an objective in the Fair Work Act and there will be more electric-vehicle charging stations.
More broadly, Mr Albanese said Labor would bring the principles of universal, affordable and quality service to child care and aged care.
Pledge on health
“For too long, our youngest Australians and our oldest Australians and their families have lived with broken systems … I will make it the Labor government’s mission to fix this.”
Mr Morrison announced the Coalition’s blueprint to improve online safety, an issue he also intends to take up – if re-elected – at a global level at the G20 summit in Bali later in the year.
On broader economic issues, asked what the Coalition would do about rising grocery prices, Mr Morrison said he had already halved the petrol tax, provided cash payments to pensioners and implemented an income tax break to start on July 1.
He said the war on Europe and the ongoing impact on supply chains of the COVID-19 pandemic were key pressures on inflation.
“The Labor Party think they have some kind of Harry Potter wand that you can just raise in government and it changes the price of a lettuce – it’s ridiculous,” Mr Morrison said.
“That shows a complete lack of understanding of what is driving prices.”
Mr Morrison held a local campaign rally in the seat of Reid, as Liberal strategists fear the loss of a swathe of seats in Sydney to Labor and independent candidates.
An average of the most recent opinion polls puts Labor on 54 per cent of the two-party preferred vote – which if replicated on election day would deliver a comfortable majority.
Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese will take part in the second leaders’ debate on May 8.