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Shorten fights on fairness in budget reply, but will it be enough?

Natalie Mast writes in The Conversation (12.5.17) that, with the Coalition delivering a raft of so-called 'Labor-lite' economic measures, Labor needs to convincingly discredit the 2017 budget to the point that the government cannot use it to help restore its standing in the eyes of voters.

'Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is under real pressure for the first time since the 2016 election, as the government attempts to wedge Labor with a circuit-breaker budget.

'Shorten used his budget-in-reply speech to appeal to middle Australia, putting forward an argument that Labor is the only party that can be trusted to deliver a fair go. He argued the government’s so-called “Labor-lite budget” is unfair, bringing benefits only to rich.

'Since the election, it seems everything – including the polls – has gone Labor’s way. The Turnbull government has been plagued by infighting and its messages have failed to resonate with the electorate.

'However, over the last few weeks – starting with changes to 457 visas and the expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme – the Coalition has begun a new conversation with the electorate.

'... The government and the opposition both need to convince average working and middle class voters that their policies will provide Australians with the best outcome. In some ways, this is politics as usual.

'But, with the polls leaning to Labor and voters’ faith in the government’s ability to deliver low, the stakes seem higher than normal – especially as voters are presented with two positions not as divergent as they have been in recent years.'

Federal budget 2017: Nine big ideas that should have been in the budget

In the wake of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's budget reply speech, highlighting a new political battle over the economic measure of 'fairness', several observers have commented on apparent shortcomings and missed opportunities in the Turnbull government's 2017 budget.

'The federal budget is a rare opportunity to introduce big, bold decisions. Here are 9 ideas the Turnbull government missed.'


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