Every now and then, governments have a chance to change the course of a nation. Within a year of Bob Hawke’s election, Medicare was up and running. Justin Trudeau was a breath of fresh air to Canadian politics, justifying gender equality with the simple reply ‘because it’s 2015’.
Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations. Julia Gillard’s government created the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In recent months, Jacinda Ardern drew her nation together in the face of awful tragedy.
It’s easy to be cynical about elections, but politics is also the profession of Mandela and Churchill, Lincoln and Pericles. Done right, it can be part of that great journey towards a world that is more open, prosperous and inclusive.
It’s been just over two thousand days since Labor lost office. Throughout that time, Bill Shorten has led a united Labor team that has focused on hard reform, honest engagement and crafting positive policies.
We know that technology demands a more educated workforce, so we’ll extend preschool to three year-olds, invest in every public school, rebuild apprenticeship numbers, and uncap university places.
We will expand Medicare to cover more out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients, and dental care for seniors. Labor will reduce carbon emissions, and bring humanity back into asylum seeker policy.
We’ve scrutinised the tax system, and identified the tax loopholes that must be closed if we’re to pay back the government debt that has doubled under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government. Labor will ensure multinationals pay their fair share of tax, foster a more dynamic and competitive economy, and engage with charities and non-profits to build civic community.
When it comes to climate change, wages policy and tax reform, Labor’s policies represent the sensible centre in Australian public life. While Coalition ministers decry our childcare affordability policy as ‘communism’ (really!), economic frontbenchers like Chris Bowen, Jim Chalmers, Clare O’Neil, Madeleine King and myself are pro-market progressives. We’ll work with business, but we won’t work for business.
There have been plenty of Labor policies announced nationally, but as an unabashed champion of the bush capital, I’m especially proud of what a Labor Government would do for our city. With the public service decimated under the Coalition, we’d remove the arbitrary public service cap, ensuring agencies can hire permanent staff, rather than being forced to rely on consultants.
We’d invest in the second stage of Light Rail, making it possible to travel by rail all the way from Gungahlin to Woden. For Canberra’s health care system, a Shorten Government would build a new dedicated outpatient clinic, establish a new palliative care in-patient unit and upgrade support services for new mums.
New funding for the University of Canberra would see them establish a unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Entrepreneurs Program, while investment in the Holt District Playing Fields at Kippax will provide better changing room facilities for female players.
To address acute poverty, we’d boost funding for emergency relief, provided by terrific local organisations like Communities@Work and Companion House. A Shorten Labor Government will be as principled, ambitious and unified as the nation deserves.
Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of Region Media.
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