News National MPs draw line under Shorten allegations

MPs draw line under Shorten allegations

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Federal MPs from the prime minister down appear to be drawing a line under unfounded rape allegations against Labor leader Bill Shorten.

As his party colleagues rallied around Mr Shorten, his political opponents also offered support and praise.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed the opposition leader’s decision to go public about allegations dating back nearly 30 years ago.

“It would be very, very painful to feel you are the subject of an unjust accusation,” he said on Friday.

It was better having the matter “aired and ventilated now, rather than continuing to bubble up as a whispering campaign”.

“Those things can be very corrosive.”

Mr Shorten has been cleared of any criminal conduct following an investigation by Victoria Police.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the allegations as “a personal matter from many years ago”.

When asked whether Mr Shorten had done the right thing by going public, he told ABC radio in Adelaide: “Obviously, when something like that is swirling around in the ether, sometimes it’s best to deal with it openly and he’s done what he thinks best.”

Mr Abbott said as far as he was concerned the matter was at an end and he does not expect any of his colleagues to attempt to make political capital out of Mr Shorten’s travails.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said the allegations and subsequent investigation had been a really stressful time for Mr Shorten and his family.

“When allegations like this are made it’s absolutely vital that the person making the allegation goes to the police and the issue is thoroughly investigated,” she said.

“It is good now that he can draw a line under it.”

Ms Plibersek said Mr Shorten did not need to make public that he was the “senior Labor figure” at the centre of the allegations.

“He could’ve carried on without ever expressing the fact this report was about him.”

Senior colleague Chris Bowen said Mr Shorten showed considerable courage in being “up front with the Australian people” and should be commended for his decision. The allegations against Mr Shorten were first published on the Facebook page of former prime minister Kevin Rudd in October 2013, shortly after he became Labor leader.

A woman, who cannot be named, alleged that she was raped during an overnight camp organised by Victorian Young Labor near Geelong in 1986, when Mr Shorten was 19 and she was 16.

Mr Shorten dismissed the allegations as “untrue and abhorrent”.