Federal Labor’s deputy leader has told more than 400 Queensland party delegates that her boss Bill Shorten has had a bad week.
Addressing the Queensland Australian Labor Party’s 51st state conference Tanya Plibersek alluded to rape allegations against the opposition leader from 1986, which have since been dismissed, within the opening two minutes of her speech in a riverside Brisbane hotel.
“My friend Bill Shorten would have loved to have been here with you today,” she said on Saturday.
“Bill’s had a pretty bad week but he’s had a wonderful year.”
Aside from this week’s allegations Mr Shorten had to deal with the death of his mother Ann in April but has performed well in the opinion polls, especially in light of an unpopular budget.
This week’s unproven allegations against Mr Shorten, centred on a Victorian Young Labor camp near Geelong in 1986.
Following a police investigation which cleared him, Mr Shorten has dismissed the rape allegations as “untrue and abhorrent”.
After addressing 420 Labor delegates, Ms Plibersek fended off new revelations in a book by veteran political journalist Paul Kelly that Julia Gillard thought Kevin Rudd was mentally unfit to have taken Labor to the 2010 election.
“I didn’t talk about our leadership issues at the time. I’m certainly not going to start doing that now,” she told reporters.
Ms Plibersek also told the packed room in the Mercure Hotel that “opposition is the worst place to be”.
“The difficulty is moving on from the past plus staying united as a team,” she said.