Shorten offers 'fair go' in election pitch

Daniel McCulloch
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ELECTION19 BILL SHORTEN MELBOURNE

Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised voters a fair go as the federal election campaign kicks off

Bill Shorten insists Labor is ready to govern as he kicks off a five-week federal election campaign.

The opposition leader ventured deep into enemy territory on Thursday after the May 18 election was called.

His first stop was at Mitcham, in the Melbourne electorate of Deakin, which the Liberals hold by 6.4 per cent.

"My feet are firmly planted in the backyard of a Mitcham house because I understand that politics should be about the people," Mr Shorten told reporters.

"It's about cost of living, education, health, good jobs and renewable energy."

Mr Shorten chatted to the home owners and their two young sons, and patted Fonzie the family dog.

He then stepped out into their leafy backyard strewn with sports equipment, before launching into full election mode.

Mr Shorten said Labor was in a competitive position going into the campaign, but not the clear front runner.

He said Australians faced a "real and vital choice" at ballot boxes in five weeks' time.

"Do you want Labor's energy, versus the government's tiredness? Labor's focus on the future, versus being stuck in the past?" Mr Shorten asked.

"Do you want a united government under Labor, or another three years of division following the last six years of division under the current government?"

Mr Shorten pledged to upgrade hospital emergency departments, help cancer patients meet treatment costs and invest in MRI machines and scans.

He also vowed to raise wages, boost school funding, invest in renewable energy and tackle climate change.

Labor is promising to raise the necessary funds by "closing tax loopholes" and making the banks and multinationals pay their fair share.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the governor-general on Thursday morning, requesting that federal parliament be dissolved so that voters can head to the polls.

His mid-week request forced the cancellation of two days worth of Senate estimates hearings, where opposition parties grill department officials about government spending.

Mr Shorten is not impressed.

Labor was planning to grill the CSIRO about environmental approvals for the Adani coal mine in Queensland.

"What a coincidence," Mr Shorten said.

"The government, rather than face the scrutiny of parliament about the fairly politicised and bullying process of mine approvals, has instead decided that today they want to have the election."