There was one fleeting reference to regional Australia in Labor leader Bill Shorten’s election manifesto on the weekend. It was about the need for more MRI machines in regional hospitals – an issue for the state governments which run them.
That’s it. There was nothing about infrastructure, no real mention of agriculture. Passing references to small business – the lifeblood of regional economies – were lost in an assault on big business. Mr Shorten promised more action on climate change, including restating Labor’s commitment to 50 per cent renewable power by 2030, but remained silent on how he would achieve it – beyond a broad undertaking of more subsidies.
Our power bills keep going up because subsidies add to the price, while reliability is reduced as the back-up power needed to fill the gap, when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, is in steep decline. Half the speech was devoted to industrial relations, reflecting Mr Shorten’s lifelong involvement in the union movement which, outside the public sector, is relevant to about 10 per cent of workers.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in response, Mr Shorten’s five point manifesto was simply a plan for more taxes, more taxes, more taxes, more taxes, and more taxes. Many of those would fall on those who can least afford it, especially the large group of retired people who are such an important part of regional communities on the Mid-North Coast.