Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has made his first promise to Australian voters as he campaigns to become the country’s 31st prime minister.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison took steps on Sunday morning to trigger the next federal election, to be held on May 21.
Shortly after the election date was announced, the Opposition Leader revealed his first move if he were to win.
Australian children struggling with hearing loss will have greater access to expert care under a Labor government, with a plan to extend the support service nationwide, the Mr Albanese promised.
Mr Albanese vowed to provide $1.5 million to fund the development of the digital Hearhub platform which is run by Shepherd Centres.
Shepherd Centres provides support services which help hearing-impaired children develop speech and communication proficiency, life skills and emotional resilience.
Hearhub will provide hearing tests, educational resources and practical support for families online, which will benefit children with hearing loss and related communication difficulties such as autism spectrum disorder, a media release from the Labor campaign said.
In addition to the online offerings, Hearhub would also expand the Shepherd Centres into rural and regional areas under the plan.
If Mr Albanese were to become Prime Minister, the new Shepherd Centres would be in Launceston and Hobart, a first for Tasmania.
They will have $2.5 million in funding, while an additional $2.5 million will go to a new Shepherd Centre in Oran Park in Sydney’s Macarthur region.
Mr Albanese said children will hearing loss deserve the “best possible start in life”, which begins with care and support.
“A Labor government will ensure our kids are looked after, whether through digital or on-the-ground support services. No child will be left behind,” he said.
Labor’s health and ageing spokesman Mark Butler said the Morrison government has ignored the issues for “too long”.
“Labor will listen to families and we will make sure support is received where it is needed the most,” he said.
Mr Albanese embarked on his official campaign on Sunday, declaring no one in parliament has closer ties to the business community than him.
He pushed the message he would bring “renewal” rather than “radical change” if he was voted in.
Mr Albanese harked back to some of his well trodden ground including the story of his early life growing up in public housing with a single mother.
He appeared eager to stress his business credentials when a reporter described him as a “passionate member” of Labor’s left faction and asked if he would be one of Australia’s more left-wing prime ministers if elected.
“I am who I am. I am a working-class lad from my background, I’ve been shaped by it, I am someone who I believe is very much in touch with mainstream Australia,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.
“I’m comfortable in a boardroom and I’m comfortable in a pub.
“I would say there is no one in the parliament who has closer credentials and more friends in senior members of the business community than myself on either side of politics.”
Earlier in the day as he called the election, Mr Morrison claimed Labor would be the lesser choice for voters.
The Prime Minister has framed the choice as one between a tried and tested government with a strong economic record and an inexperienced Labor alternative.
Opinion polls have shown the opposition in a stronger position than the Morrison government for some time now but Labor will need to pull off winning a net seven seats to form a government after May 21.