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Bill Shorten Gives Us The Reasons Why Young People Should Vote Labor

Just don't spoil the latest episode of Game of Thrones for him, he hasn't seen it yet.

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Meet Bill Shorten: a man who knows all the words to Frozen and wants to be Australia's next prime minister. BuzzFeed News chatted with the Labor leader three days out from election day about why he thinks he's the progressive leader young people need.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Shorten's been eating a lot of steak lately.

He needs the protein while he's working 15-hour days on the campaign trail and is literally trying to run his way to victory. So far this year he's clocked more than 1,000km and lost 15kg.

What does he think about while he's running?

Whether he could survive a Walking Dead zombie apocalypse? Why Malcolm Turnbull is a political daddy and he's just a dad? Or maybe what his future will be if the pundits are right and Labor doesn't win the 19 seats it needs to win the election on Saturday.

"I'm very motivated ... I’m the fittest I’ve been in two and half decades so I’m feeling pretty healthy," he tells BuzzFeed News from the Bill Bus as it rolls through the southern Sydney seat of Banks.

There's actually not one but two identical buses with Shorten's face on them – but only one is decked out with a karaoke machine. Together they've gone from Cairns down the east coast to Sydney, across the Bass Strait to Tasmania, Melbourne to Adelaide, and crossed the Nullarbor twice.

Shorten normally passes the time by watching Game of Thrones, but he's fallen behind during the campaign and is desperately trying to avoid spoilers.

"What is good about Australia is I’m only up to Episode 5 of series six of Game of Thrones and no one’s spoiled it for me. It’s really decent. The generosity of the Australian spirit there!"

Shorten believes Labor is the best choice for millennials on 2 July because the Liberals are doing the best they can to wage a war on young people, he says.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

"Climate, schools, higher education, TAFE, marriage equality, first-home buyers – [Labor's] is a pretty good platform for young people to get behind," Shorten said.

Over the past eight weeks Labor has ruled out supporting any form of university fee deregulation but said it will regulate private colleges, promised faster internet to more homes, and vowed to defend penalty rates (while also vowing to abide by any decision the Fair Work Ombudsman makes).

To counter the Liberals' paid PaTH internship for young unemployed people, Labor will offer free 20-week pre-apprenticeship TAFE courses and Commonwealth-supported places at 10 new hybrid education training centres (a mix between high school, TAFE, and university).

They've also pledged to turn the government's Tools For Your Trade loan back into a grant that doesn't have to be paid back, and set targets for Commonwealth-funded projects to hire more young people.

Shorten told BuzzFeed News the other "positive policies" Labor has for young people include taking real action on climate change, because he "doesn't want to pass this problem onto future generations", and negative gearing "so that first-home buyers can compete on a level playing field with property investors who are currently receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies, which help them make their bids against first-home buyers".

If he wins government on 2 July, Shorten has promised, he will create a Youth portfolio (likely a parliamentary secretary role filled by NSW senator Sam Dastyari) to make sure young people don't get left out of the policy debate.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

He brings up his teenage stepchildren, Rupert and Georgette, whom he says are the reason he's come out against the Coalition's plans for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage and instead pledged to make it the first law he would pass as prime minister.

"They don’t understand what all the fuss is about," he said. "I think there are a lot of younger people really don’t even see what the problem is and they’re not quite sure why it hasn’t already happened."

But despite telling BuzzFeed News that "what's most important is the outcome [of any vote on marriage equality]", Shorten refused to say whether Labor will vote to hold a plebiscite if the Coalition wins the election.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

"I think Labor can win this election and I think we can introduce [same-sex marriage through the parliament]. Why settle for second-best when you’ve got the best option available?"

When asked what he would do if the only option available was a plebiscite, he said:

"It’s hypothetical. You’re asking me to commentate what happens if we lose the election, and I’m not prepared to do that ... especially when Malcolm Turnbull and I both know that a parliamentary vote is the quickest and most effective way to reflect the view of the people.

"Having a plebiscite just to appease Tony Abbott and the right wing of the Liberal Party to me just seems a poor deal for Australians."

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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