Australia

Shorten seeks union-business 'balance'

Bill Shorten (L) has made a conciliatory pitch to business leaders at a breakfast event in Perth. (AAP)

A Labor government would establish a new jurisdiction to hear wage theft claims of up to $100,000, and fund grants to help workers present their cases.

Surrounded by West Australian captains of industry, a former union heavyweight who wants to be prime minister was in a reassuring mood.

Bill Shorten wanted to make it clear there would be balance in industrial relations under a Labor government he could lead after Saturday.

Mr Shorten made his final trip to Perth before the election, making a conciliatory pitch to business leaders.

He described breakfast as the A-list event for aspiring prime ministers.

When the West Australian newspaper's go-between was preparing him for the morning, Mr Shorten was warned there would be plenty of people from the "top end of town" attending.

The Labor leader often uses the line to attack coalition policy which he says is mainly concerned with benefiting the rich.

But he wanted to strike a more conciliatory tone in their midst.

"I don't look out at this crowd and see a room full of class enemies," he said.

"It's not my view of Australia, it's never been my view of Australia. I think this country works best when we work together."

He said not since Gough Whitlam in 1972 had an opposition had so many ideas on so many fronts.

And he pondered Australians' choice at voting booths across the nation.

"Can the Liberals' fear campaign trump our positive campaign?"

The host finished by firing off a rapid-fire set of questions which sounded the stuff of a high-brow FM radio interview.

His favourite prime minister is John Curtin.

Mr Shorten, who is "going through a Russell Crowe phase", listed Gladiator and Master and Commander as his favourite films.

The Labor leader's least favourite place in Australia: "Canberra when it's really cold."

He said the most disgusting thing he'd eaten was "out of a canal" while backpacking in China but insisted he was now a big fan of Szechuan cuisine.

"I don't want to create an international incident."

After the business breakfast, the campaign headed to Attorney-General Christian Porter's seat of Pearce.

It's either a sign of confidence or a bullish bluff designed to make one of the government's most senior ministers nervous three days before polls close.

Industrial relations is again in the spotlight, with Labor pledging to establish a new jurisdiction to resolve small wage theft claims in a day.

There's also a $12 million commitment to help boost the number of women tradies in the workforce.

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