JULIA GILLARD has received a standing ovation at the Blacktown RSL after an impassioned pitch to western Sydney battlers.
In a wide-ranging speech aimed at voters from several marginal seats in western Sydney, Ms Gillard also announced her party’s policy to increase apprenticeship payments.
She said she understood western Sydney was “straining under population pressure” and urged voters to give federal Labor time to redress the “neglect” of the former Coalition government.
“I know that many would say year by year it feels like things are getting that bit harder, grocery bills, rents and the cost of housing, spending more time on the road and less time with the kids … more time packed onto the sardine express into the city, or in traffic jams,” she said.
“Can we really ask western Sydney to keep absorbing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people without regard to the key issue of quality of life?”
Ms Gillard has said she believes the country needs to “slow down” to ensure infrastructure keeps pace with population.
“Let’s tackle the real challenges of life in Sydney’s west where one in 10 people in this nation live,” she said. “Let us deal with the reality that families are battling with congestion and crowded public transport.”
In an attempt to differentiate herself from Tony Abbott, who is from Sydney’s more affluent north shore, Ms Gillard has said she “gets” the issues of the area because she is from western Melbourne.
The RSL audience applauded the Government’s announcement to provide a Trades Apprentice Income Bonus, which will deliver an extra $1700 for apprentices, boosting payments to $5500 over four years.
Mr Abbott has been campaigning in eastern Melbourne, including a stop at Nunawading Christian College where he joined in a cart race – see the tabbed picture on the top right of the screen for a shot of that moment.
Earlier, he announced a plan earmarking $120m to go towards technological developments in schools. It would replace Labor’s school laptops program.