National News

Labor invokes reform legacy to urge change

Voters should look at both Labor's long record of achievement and its plans for the future as they head to the ballot box on May 21.

That's the key message from the party's national campaign launch in Perth on Sunday, as leader Anthony Albanese sought to become only the fourth Labor leader since WWII to win government from opposition.

The Labor faithful gathered at Optus Stadium were told Medicare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, universal superannuation, anti-discrimination acts and native title were all legacies of past Labor governments.

"It's Labor governments that built Australia's modern economy to the benefit of working people and employers alike. And it is Labor governments that always ensure secure, better-paid jobs," Labor frontbencher Penny Wong said.

To underline the message, former Labor prime ministers Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd were in attendance, as well as state premiers Mark McGowan and Peter Malinauskas.

The campaign launch was the first in Western Australia since John Curtin during WWII as Labor positions itself to pick up three Perth seats - Swan, Pearce and Hasluck.

Mr Albanese entered the stadium to GANGgajang's tune Sounds of Then, before spruiking Labor's plan to cut the cost of living and shore up manufacturing capability in Australia.

Medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will cost a maximum of $30, with a $12.50 reduction for general patients.

Onshore manufacturing capabilities and supply chain resilience will also be bolstered under Labor, with $1 billion to process minerals like lithium and nickel used in batteries in Australia as part of the National Reconstruction Fund.

Gender pay equity will become an objective in the Fair Work Act and more electric-vehicle charging stations mean Australians will be able to drive from Adelaide to Perth, Mr Albanese said.

The move on pay equity has been welcomed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, with President Michele O'Neil calling the current system "a broken system in desperate need of reform".

"Women are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis," she said.

"The changes announced today will create a system which seeks to fix the problem, rather than preserve the status quo."

Mr Albanese also criticised stagnant wages growth and the pressures facing Australians with the increasing cost of living.

"We can't continue to see permanent jobs replaced by insecure casual ones," he said.

"Your bills aren't casual. People who want secure work need to be able to find it."

To get beyond this, an Albanese government would hold a "full employment summit" to bring together unions, employers, local, state and federal government to find ways to boost jobs and growth.

Mr Albanese also used the address to officially unveil the party's new housing equity scheme and a pledge to establish a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council.

The 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, who can then buy additional stakes in the home.

While Mr Albanese also used his speech to detail the failings of the prime minister and the coalition government, Labor sought to centre its plans around an optimistic future.

Mr McGowan said his federal colleague was a "quality act" who would do a great job as prime minister.

Mr Malinauskas said the federal leader would bring genuineness to the role of prime minister.

"Australians know he is authentic - he speaks from the heart," he said following the speech.

"I don't know if there was any particular secret (to my win). You've got to have a vision for the future. You've got to have a policy that underpins that, and we are seeing that from Albo."

© AAP 2022