Shorten promises surgery wait list cut

Labor party volunteers listen to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a rally in Sydney.
Labor party volunteers listen to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a rally in Sydney.

Patients waiting for urgent elective surgery will go under the knife faster if Labor wins the federal election.

Bill Shorten's $250 million waiting list blitz will target elective surgery lists in public hospitals around the country.

"Procedures such as knee and hip replacements or cataract surgeries aren't elective - they are essential," the Labor leader said.

Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, the average waiting time nationally across all public hospitals has increased from 36 days to 40 days.

In Western Australia in 2017/18, 14 per cent of urgent elective surgery patients weren't seen on time.

That figure was 15 per cent in South Australia and 24 per cent in Tasmania.

The funding promise is part of Labor's $2.8 billion cash injection into state hospital systems.

Mr Shorten is campaigning in southeast Melbourne on Monday, after three days touring Liberal-held seats in NSW.

The Labor leader has targeted Reid in NSW, held by retiring Liberal MP Craig Laundy, and is expected to travel to Liberal MP Jason Wood's seat of La Trobe on Monday.

On Sunday Mr Shorten spoke at a volunteer rally that effectively doubled as a campaign launch, telling Labor members he won't let Australians down.

He told the party faithful he had ripped up the rule book for being in opposition and led from the front with policy decisions.

"We decided we couldn't just sit back and wait for the other side to trip over their own shoe laces," he told the crowd in Sydney on Sunday.

"Australian politics has to be a better destination."

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek featured heavily in the rally, as Labor played up the coalition's poor record with women.

Labor frontbencher Catherine King and high profile senator Kristina Kenneally have also been prominent in the campaign.

In contrast, the coalition is losing senior figures Julie Bishop and Kelly O'Dwyer, along with other women MPs who are also retiring from parliament.

Australian Associated Press