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Debates over as election campaign heads home

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Bill Shorten will carry the spirit of his mother with him as he heads into the final quarter of the election campaign.

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The Labor leader was on the verge of tears as he shared a detailed version of his mother Ann’s story on Wednesday, in response to a Daily Telegraph story claiming he’d omitted key facts when he talked about her life earlier in the week.

She wanted to become a lawyer out of school and had the marks, but instead took a teaching scholarship so she could look after her younger siblings.

After decades of teaching, she returned to university and did study law, but suffered discrimination in the workplace.

“My mum would want me to say to older women in Australia that just because you’ve got grey hair, just because you didn’t go to a special private school, just because you don’t go to the right clubs, just because you’re not part of some backslapping boy’s club, doesn’t mean you should give up,” Shorten said.

Her tale and advice drive him to fight for everyone to be given the same chances, he said.

After the emotional morning on the campaign trail, Shorten faced Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an at-times testy debate in Canberra.

The pair clashed over the details of Labor’s plan to tackle the cost of cancer treatment, negative gearing and the make-up of their ministries.

But they both committed to maintaining budget surpluses even against the economic headwinds forecast to blow Australia’s way.

Shorten confirmed Labor’s policy costings would be released on Friday – eight days ahead of when Australians head to the polls.

One part of those costings is being revealed on Thursday, with the party releasing a Parliamentary Budget Office finding that its plan to cracking down on the use of discretionary trusts by wealthy Australians to minimise the tax they pay would give a Labor government an extra $7.7 billion in revenue to spend over the next three years.

The party will also announce a $5 million national trial of a primary school arts program that has been shown to boost literacy rates.

Under the Song room trial, 12,000 students in 32 schools would learn with an expert music, dance, drama or art teacher one day a week and nearly 600 generalist teachers would be given arts training.

-AAP

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