Australian opposition leader makes health center of election

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Opposition leader Bill Shorten has used his center-left Labor Party’s official campaign launch to cast July 2 general elections as a referendum on the future of Australia’s universal health care system.

A Labor government introduced government-funded Medicare in 1983 to provide free or subsidized health care for all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Shorten argued on Sunday that the conservative coalition plans to privatize Medicare — a claim Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies.

Six weeks after the election campaign started, Shorten launched his campaign in western Sydney where Labor hopes to win several seats from the government.

Turnbull will launch his conservative Liberal Party’s campaign next weekend.