At the Blacktown Civic Centre, Mr Whitlam had pitched his campaign as “a choice between the past and the future”, while setting out policies such as free university education and universal healthcare. Mr Whitlam also criticised “instability” in the Coalition ranks, which Mr Shorten has also made a habit of doing during the 2019 campaign.
On Thursday, Mr Shorten used some of Mr Whitlam’s words when he said Australia had to choose between “the habits and fears of the past, or the demands and opportunities of the future”. In a play on Mr Whitlam’s famous introduction, “men and women of Australia”, Mr Shorten began with “women and men of Australia”.
Singer Patricia (Little Pattie) Amphlett was at the 1972 speech and sang on the It’s Time song. A life-long Labor member, she was at Bowman Hall in 1972 and on Thursday.
Ms Amphlett said the party had “a new generation of people to look after”.
The speech came after Mr Shorten campaigned briefly in the marginal seat of Reid on Thursday morning, which the Liberal Party nominally holds on 4.7 per cent. Both sides have been furiously campaigning in Reid this week – Mr Shorten has visited twice in two days. Prime Minister Scott Morrison campaigned at the Sydney Markets in the electorate early on Thursday, while Mr Shorten made dumplings at a local restaurant.
The seat, which has a high number of Chinese and Korean voters, was held by retiring Liberal MP and Malcolm Turnbull supporter Craig Laundy.
Political watchers expect the final days of the campaign to be intense, as many voters tune in for the first time.
Dr Kevin Brianton, a politics and public relations lecturer at La Trobe University, said after a lacklustre campaign, during which many voters had been disengaged, people would now be paying attention as they came to vote.
“In the next 48 hours, the game really begins.”
Judith Ireland is a political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House