Besides several digs at the current coalition government, the federal opposition has thrown a few sweeteners into its Budget Reply and promised to go in harder on climate change and electric vehicle uptake.

By far Labor’s biggest commitment was a $2.3 billion plan to eliminate out of pocket expenses like specialist appointments and scans for cancer patients.

But here are some of the treats Labor is promising that will benefit ASX small caps.

Tax cuts for small business

If Labor wins government at the May election, opposition leader Bill Shorten promised he would match Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposed cut in the company tax rate to 27.5 per cent for companies with an annual turnover of less than $50m.

Taking that further, he said a Labor government would provide an extra 20 per cent tax break for every business that invests in productivity-boosting equipment above $20,000, whether that’s a “big manufacturer buying new technology or a tradie getting a new ute”.

EVs and batteries

Any small cap in the battery metals space will likely be pretty chuffed with Labor’s push for more households to have energy storage systems installed.

“Labor will provide a $2000 payment to families who want to join the fight against climate change and the fight to lower their power bills by installing a battery storage system,” Shorten said.

While there were no numbers around Labor’s electric vehicle strategy, Shorten did promise a greater push for batteries to be made in Australia and electric vehicle uptake.

“Here’s the remarkable thing, we already have every single resource to make a lithium battery right here in Australia,” he said.

“So instead of the usual trope of shipping the minerals overseas and buying back the finished product at largely inflated prices, let’s make the batteries here and let’s do this with electric vehicles and charging equipment and stations too, supported by Australia’s first electric vehicle policy.”

Morrison, meanwhile, promised a $400,000 funding commitment for a national electric vehicle strategy.

>>READ: Stockhead’s Budget cliff notes on what’s in store for ASX small caps

Investing in industry

Labor plans to sink cash into several industries, but again has not put a dollar figure on it.

“We will invest in industries where Australia can be the best in the world,” Shorten said.

“I speak of agriculture and tourism, hydrogen energy, science and research, advanced manufacturing, mineral exploration to unearth new wealth, the defence industry and commercial ship building, to revive our merchant marine and see more Australian ships flying the Australian ensign.”

Shorten said a Labor government would continue to support scientists in their work and invest in research in clinical trials.


Labor has big infrastructure plans, but on a much quicker timeframe than the Liberal government is proposing.

The current government has committed $100 billion to infrastructure, but over a 10-year period.

“Our projects are not on the never-never, they’re locked into the first budget, but there’s another difference that I offer the Australian people frustrated by the constant short-termism in the infrastructure debate,” Shorten said.

“If we are elected, I will invite the then opposition leader to be involved in nominating directors to Infrastructure Australia, so we take the politics out and we make generational decisions in infrastructure for one and for all time.”

Shorten promised work would start immediately on projects in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, South Australia, Perth and the ACT.

“Labor has transport plans and projects ready to go in every state and territory, cross-river rail in Brisbane, western Sydney metro, suburban rail loop in Melbourne, the Bridgewater Bridge in Tassie, South Road in South Australia, Metronet in Perth, upgrading the roads around Kakadu and phase two of the ACT light rail,” he said.

“Labor will continue to develop and support the development of northern Australia, including overdue upgrades for the beef roads and the Rocky Ring Road.”

Labor also committed $1.5 billion to upgrade the Gateway Motorway and the Bruce Highway in Queensland and outlined his party’s plans to renovate the national energy grid with new pipelines, interconnectors hydro and storage.