Australian opposition leader puts health at heart of election campaign

Opposition leader Bill Shorten used his centre-left Labor Party’s official campaign launch on Sunday to cast July 2 general elections as a referendum on the future of Australia’s universal health care system. A Labor government introduced government-funded Medicare in 1983 to provide free or subsidised health care for all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Labor argues the conservative coalition government plans to privatise Medicare — a claim Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies. Turnbull, who will officially launch his conservative Liberal Party’s campaign next weekend, announced on Saturday that his government had scrapped plans to outsource the Medicare payments system to private enterprise.

What Bill Shorten is doing is peddling an extraordinary lie so audacious … it defies belief.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Six weeks after the election was called, Shorten launched his campaign in western Sydney where Labor hopes to win several seats from the government.An opinion poll published by Fairfax Media on Saturday showed Labor ahead of the government with support of 51 per cent of respondents compared to 49 per cent for the conservative coalition. But this lead is within the poll’s 2.6 percentage point margin of error. Many analysts don’t believe Labor’s support will deliver the 21 seats it needs to form a majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, where parties form governments. Since Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007, there have been four changes of prime minister in an era of extraordinary volatility in Australian politics.

If you want to know why this election will make a difference to you, your family, your street, your workplace, to Australia’s future, I can give you the answer of why politics matters in one word: Medicare.

Bill Shorten