Prove your humanity

Bill Shorten delivered the Labor Party’s reply to the Federal Budget last night, taking care to hit all the right notes for those who missed out on the Coalition’s ‘cash splash’. The Opposition Leader made no effort to hold back on the emotive language, criticising the Coalition’s budget delivery for “missing passion”. Nor did he hold off on the cheese, saying that Labor will “strive for the best, because Australian’s deserve the best”; a Budget reply or a low-budget ad? You decide.

In the Budget announced on Tuesday, there were several very apparent drawbacks, and Shorten was not shy in addressing them—starting with the National Disability Insurance Service. The Coalition has recently been under fire for using under-spent funds from the NDIS to boost the Budget’s bottom line, and Shorten was quick to use Morrison’s lemons to make lemonade.

The National Disability Insurance Agency, who administers the NDIS, previously had a cap on staff; Shorten has promised to lift this.

“We will put people with a disability back at the centre of decision-making and we will get the NDIS back on track,” he said.

Shorten has promised a bigger tax-refund than the Liberals for 3.6 million Australians. Along with low-income earners—someone earning less than $40k annually —he specifically addressed single mothers and workers who have suffered penalty rate cuts.

Labor also promised the ABC a piece of the pie, pledging to end the funding freeze and restore $83.7 million over three years, if elected. Shorten said that Labor will also provide an additional $10 million to “support regional news and emergency broadcasting, particularly in areas affected by natural disasters,” a timely promise that may tempt the votes of the media and those living in areas prone to disaster.

This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given Shorten’s condemnation of the Coalition actions. The Opposition Leader labelled the cuts as politically motivated, saying that the public broadcaster was one of the “pet hates of the right wing of the Liberal party.”

Perhaps the most emotive investment announced was the $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Plan, with the Opposition pledging $600 million to eliminate out of pocket costs for diagnostic imaging, and $433 million to cover specialist consultations for cancer patients over four years.

Shorten pointed out that one in two Australian’s are likely to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives and promised that “under Labor, if you’re battling cancer, you focus on getting well without worrying about going broke.”

“I can promise you that if you’re in the fight for your life, a Labor government will be alongside with you,” he said. While this is great news, it’s hard not to question Labor’s motives.

“We choose hope over fear. We choose the future over the past,” he said. But the deficit-filled past of Labor will be a little harder to sweep under the rug.

Many promises were made last night, tactically strung together with feelings of hope, and while Labor’s reply was certainly the more emotive of the two, it’s hard to say which speech will pull in more power.