above: Arguably Bill Shorten won the recent Leaders' Debate for Labor ; But the leader needs to make clearer the connection between education and infrastructure, and a strong and fair economy. Labor could also do with more policy ambition ; and needs to 'do the right thing' for the elderly, and other vulnerable people.
Shorten’s approach is basically to defend Australia’s minimalist welfare state and social wage – but without such significant new initiatives – say on the scale of the NDIS. (National Disability Insurance Scheme) His strategy is ‘to hold the line’ against Turnbull’s Ideological drive for ‘smaller government’ at the expense of pensioners and other vulnerable Australians. The opposition of the Australian Medical Association to the erosion of Medicare and bulk-billing could be crucial. Shorten is also ‘holding the line’ on Gonski and against the projected deregulation of Higher Education.
But Labor’s back-down on restoring Aged Care funding was especially disappointing: and will have bad consequences for some of our most vulnerable Australians. Labor needs to revisit these areas if actually elected. Labor Governments cannot take it for granted they will enjoy the protracted time in office as enjoyed during the Hawke/Keating years. Labor has to ‘seize the day’, and entrench important reforms while it can. Personally I have advocated for the vulnerable elderly and the mentally ill: suggesting the importance of addressing a mental-health related life expectancy crisis. (where about 300,000 people are dying 25 years earlier that the general average) And also I have suggested the necessity of tackling unfair user-pays in Aged Care ; as well as the crisis there with regard quality of life, and in resourcing and staffing the system.
Amidst talk on the economy Labor’s Negative Gearing measure is perhaps its most significant new initiative: with the hope it will make housing more affordable, partly as a consequence of encouraging investment in new stock. This would also stimulate growth.
Also importantly: Turnbull is attempting to trade on his commitment to build new subs in South Australia. Building the subs will cost $50 billion and create 3,000 jobs. But by comparison the Conservative LNPs withdrawal of only modest support for the auto industry will cost 50,000 jobs. And it was projected about half of those jobs (about 24,000 of them) are lost in South Australia alone. Hopefully workers have long memories; and if not so then Shorten should remind them!