The 9 Most Important Moments Of Labor's Campaign Launch

Tax breaks, protesters and cute kids in matching outfits.

19/06/2016 2:04 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
Shorten is confident that a united Labor can win the upcoming election.

Labor's campaign launch in western Sydney went off largely without a hitch -- smooth, uncontroversial, exactly what could be hoped for in an event like this. Labor got to present itself as a united front, a team in unity, illustrated best through putting no fewer than 27 Labor members on stage flanking leader Bill Shorten as he roared through a near-50 minute speech.

We've detailed the bigger picture stuff already, but let's unpack a few of the most important bits of the Labor launch, less than two weeks from election day:

Even the most casual observer would have found it hard to miss the Joan Sutherland theatre as the venue for the launch. A hundred signs staked into the ground or cable-tied to fences announced what the day was all about -- half for local Lindsay candidate Emma Husar, who was host for the event, and half of Bill Shorten's beaming face. Besides that, every other surface possible was plastered with stickers, banners and posters, bearing some combination of "Labor", "ALP", "100 positive policies" or "we'll put people first". There was no mistaking what this day was all about (spoiler alert: Labor).

While local printing businesses are no doubt sitting back and counting the windfall from today's ALP promotional material, a few other signs snuck into the fray. Stephen Lynch, the Nick Xenophon Team candidate for Lindsay, rocked up on his own, clad in orange, wearing a corflute with his own face on it. A real power-dressing move.

With Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen going to lengths to highlight the unity and solidarity of the Labor team, the presence of ALP greats was an important touch. Former Prime Ministers Julia Gillard, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke sat in the front row, each entering the auditorium to standing ovations and a hero's welcome. The only Labor PM in the last generation to miss the event? Kevin Rudd, who was reported as being in Russia on his own personal business. Shorten noted Rudd's absence, and paused a beat for the crowd to applaud or cheer at the mention of his name -- but unfortunately, the only sound that could be heard was the faint chirp of crickets, as not a cheer or clap rang through the venue. Shorten quickly moved on.

While Shorten seems to have put himself on a zinger ban, the same didn't quite extend to his lieutenants. As Bowen took the stage, he talked of the Shorten team being "focused not on itself," and said Labor had hoped the election would be "a battle of ideas, not insults."

"Our opponents have a three word slogan and a one-point plan," Bowen laughed.

"Has there ever been a leader who promised their country so much but delivered so little?" Plibersek asked of Turnbull.

Shorten later read out the names of Coalition ministers, pausing to let the crowd boo or laugh as they chose.

"Morrison" ("boo")
"Dutton" ("boooooo")
"Cash" ("noooo")
"Abbott" ("NO")

A bunch of cute choir kids came out to sing the national anthem in matching white shirts, blue jeans and white sneakers. It was dad fashion at its finest.

Among the zingers and the chest-beating pep talk, Shorten did announce a handful of new policies. After railing repeatedly against the government's planned $50 billion tax cut for businesses, Shorten announced business tax concessions of his own. Small businesses who employ jobseekers under 25 or over 55, or parents or carers returning to the workforce, would be able to claim up to $20,000 per worker for up to five employees. The perk, named the New Jobs Tax Cut, would be limited to businesses with turnover of under $2 million. In a statement after the speech, Shorten claimed the announcement is a $257 million investment to get up to 30,000 people into work.

Also announced on Sunday was a new $32 million investment into a new National Drug Strategy to combat drug use.

"The first thing we want to do is to make it easier for a person to find a treatment service than a drug dealer," Labor said in a statement, announcing funding security for treatment services.

Rounding out the policy announcements were commitments to reverse planned cuts to diagnostic imaging and pathology services, and to ensure that 10 percent of workers on government infrastructure projects are Australian apprentices.

Among the "100 positive policies" Labor spruiks, was a bit of negativity. Shorten trotted out some of Labor's top scare campaigns, warning of $100,000 university degrees, cuts to Medicare, a 15 percent GST and income tax collected by the states. None of this was new, but shows that Labor will likely double down on these criticisms as they try to claw voters in key marginal rural and outer-metropolitan areas.

But despite the scare campaigns resurfacing, the Labor launch was largely about positivity. Many political pundits and pollsters have already written off Labor's chances of winning the election, saying the ALP has not won over enough voters in the right areas, that their campaign didn't do enough to swing voters, that they have left their run too late. Shorten and Plibersek and Bowen aimed to put those theories to bed.

"Friends, we can win this election," Shorten declared confidently.

"There is always someone willing to write Labor off, and they are always wrong. This election is a battle for our generation of true believers. It's our time."

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