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As political footballs go, workplace relations is one of the hottest.

Bill Shorten started his campaign day pounding the pavement with north Queensland rugby legend Johnathan Thurston on an early morning run through Townsville.

Mr Shorten then traded bitumen for bagpipes, attending a military parade at the nearby Lavarack Barracks.

The parade marked the 68th Korean War anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong.

There were 32 Australians soldiers killed in the April 1951 battle as they held back a Chinese advance, with more than 50 others wounded and three taken prisoner.

Visiting a Townsville construction site, Mr Shorten promised 2.6 million casuals an easier pathway to permanent work if Labor wins on May 18.

Labor is proposing laws allowing casuals to request permanent jobs after 12 months with the same company.

Workers would also be given the right to challenge an employer who “unreasonably refuses”.

“Too often, long-term casual work is used as a mechanism to pay workers less, deprive them of leave and make them easier to sack,” Mr Shorten said.

Labor’s policy builds on a recent decision of the Fair Work Commission, which paved a path for casual workers to ask for part-time or full-time employment if they worked a regular pattern of hours over a year.

Currently, there is no obligation for an employer to switch a casual worker into a permanent gig.

More than half Australia’s 2.6 million casuals have been with their employer for more than 12 months and 192,000 have been in the same job more than 10 years.

Crippling unemployment is a major issue in Herbert, which Ms O’Toole holds with a margin of 0.02 per cent.

Labor’s clamp down on casual work is the latest in a string of industrial relations reforms the opposition has released this week.

Mr Shorten is also promising to boost the minimum wage, crack down on the use of foreign workers and pump big money into regional tourism.

The opposition leader found himself in hot water after promising to “look at” tax relief for people earning $250,000 while speaking to a port worker in Gladstone.

He denied being misleading, saying his party was on the record as pledging to remove the deficit levy on high-income earners in 2022.

However he told reporters it was important his government did not “rob Peter to pay Paul”, in terms of getting a better deal for low and middle-income earners.

Mr Shorten took aim at Scott Morrison, suggesting the prime minister was getting away without “serious scrutiny”.

“The prime minister’s job isn’t to be the court jester – it’s to be the man with the plan and the answers. I’ve got the plan and I’ve got the answers.”