Bill Shorten has used many secret weapons in his bid to win government. There's been a reference from elder statesman Bob Hawke, a happy families photo call with former prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and multiple appearances with his wife, Chloe. But as his six-year push for The Lodge enters its final phase, Shorten has reached for the granddaddy of them all: Gough.
With TV and radio advertising now banned for the remainder of the campaign and pre-polling expected to reach a crescendo on Friday, Shorten brought Labor back to Blacktown.
Inviting obvious comparisons between Gough Whitlam's history-making election win in 1972 and Shorten's chances on Saturday, the Labor leader delivered his last major speech of the campaign at Bowman Hall. The venue, in Sydney's west, is the very place where Whitlam launched his "It's time" campaign that saw him defeat the Coalition for the first time in 23 years.
The theme of Shorten's speech was all about "change" (which, if you think about it, is just another way of saying "it's time").
"Forty seven years ago, when an earlier Labor generation filled this marvellous hall with their hope and their passion, the door was ajar for our nation and Australians had to choose: Would we hide from change? Would we turn our backs to the world?"
Shorten - albeit among friends - had the crowd chanting along as he ticked off Labor's plans for government: more funding for childcare, dental care and cancer patients, increases to wages and action on climate change. "Vote for change!" people in red T-shirts shouted happily.
Shorten wasn't shy about using some of Whitlam's words from 1972 almost verbatim: "Reject the habits and the fears of the past, and step up to the demands and opportunities of our future!" Although he did swap the order on Whitlam's famous introduction to "women and men of Australia" from "men and women of Australia".
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek ramped up the mood early on, telling supporters: "We are nearly there, we are so close!"
Patricia ("Little Pattie") Amphlett, who sang on the It's time song and saw Whitlam speak in 1972, was sitting in the front row and said she was thrilled to be back.
With a merchandise store outside the venue selling "It's time" T-shirts, posters of Gillard's "misogyny speech", retro Hawke badges and "Bill 4 PM" cupcakes, there was a festival atmosphere at Bowman Hall.
But it was all part of a tightly controlled penultimate day of campaigning. Shorten did not hold a press conference, outsourcing that responsibility to shadow treasurer Chris Bowen. The Labor leader's only other campaign event was a brief stop in the Sydney electorate of Reid, just west of the CBD - a seat the Liberals nominally hold on 4.7 per cent, and where both sides have been furiously campaigning.
In a not-so-subtle play for the large Chinese vote in Reid, Shorten went to a Burwood restaurant to make dumplings (pork and chive). Lynda Liu, who instructed him, described the Opposition Leader as "very nice". But when it came to dumpling production, noted, "he's not experienced".
Labor sources insist they are on track to win Reid and only stopped by the Sydney electorate because the dumplings made for a good photo opportunity. People can make up their own minds about the fact this was Shorten's second visit to Reid in just four days.
- SMH/The Age