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Shorten shifts priority to WA
Shorten shifts priority to WA

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor will fight a re-run Senate election in WA on jobs, living standards and rising energy prices, and shadow ministers will spend more time in the State to understand it better.

In an interview with _The West Australian _, Mr Shorten also said Labor had moved on from the bitter divisions of the Rudd- Gillard years and accused the Abbott Government of treating voters cynically.

Though some opinion polls have Labor in front, voters get their first chance to pass judgment on Mr Shorten and Prime Minister Tony Abbott at next month's by-election in Kevin Rudd's vacant seat in Queensland.

But a much bigger test looms if the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, orders a fresh Senate poll for WA in the wake of the bungled re-count.

Mr Shorten rated the chance of the court ruling in favour of a new poll as more than 50-50.

Mr Abbott has said a fresh poll will be a referendum on Labor's opposition to abolishing the carbon and mining taxes but Mr Shorten believes voters are looking to the future.

He said jobs, standard of living and energy costs would be a campaign battleground for Labor.

"The coalition wants to fight the last war in the next battle," Mr Shorten said. "People have voted on what they thought of the last three years. They want to know about the next three years and six years. I think people are going to mark the Abbott Government down if they keep talking about Labor."

He said creating new jobs and keeping existing ones were crucial but Mr Abbott's "right-wing ideology" meant he did not appreciate manufacturing.

"The Government has run up the white flag on Holden and Qantas, and it's going to run up the white flag on SPC," Mr Shorten said. He said Australia had first-class health and education systems but the Government was softening the public for big cuts despite pre-election promises funding would be preserved.

With Labor having struggled for support in WA, Mr Shorten said a priority was to reconnect with the mining sector and he wanted shadow ministers to visit the State more often. "You have got to spend time in the west to appreciate the west," he said.