Senior Liberal figures have come out all guns blazing in an attack on “Underbelly Labor” and its leader Bill Shorten, while ducking a public display of internal division over climate change.
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop laid into the Labor opposition on Saturday, saying “the once great movement” had been taken over by political narcissists.
“The very soul of the Labor Party has been hijacked by a group of backroom bovver boys with no semblance of a moral compass, and the leader of the pack is none other than Bill Shorten,” she told the Liberal federal council.
“With exposes coming up at the royal commission of his conduct as a union official, I think that the next episode of that popular TV series should be ‘Underbelly Labor’.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said ABC TV’s The Killing Season series on the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard leadership had answered what Labor stood for these days.
“They’re for themselves,” he told the council in Melbourne on Saturday. “We stand for all of us.”
Mr Abbott said Mr Shorten could not be trusted.
“The one thing Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard could agree on was you can’t trust Bill Shorten,” he said.
“If Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd don’t trust Bill Shorten, why should you?”
Mr Shorten brushed off the Liberal attacks, which included a YouTube video attacking the opposition leader as weak.
“Australians don’t really want this sort of tit-for-tat, business-as-usual politics,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“They want to know that their politicians, be it the prime minister or the alternative prime minister, have got a plan for the future.
“Every day that the government and Mr Abbott spend attacking me and the Labor Party shows that they’d rather live in the past and they’re not focused on the future.”
The Liberal Party has managed to avoid any public spat over the most controversial issue before the federal council.
A motion that the government should not sign any binding climate agreement at a United Nations summit in Paris this year was put off to be dealt with by the party’s policy standing committee.
Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger spoke on Friday to the party’s federal regional and rural committee, which put forward the motion, and convinced them it should be considered by senior party members on the policy committee.
“(It is) not trying to avoid debate, but it’s probably better that it’s given a lot more consideration,” Mr Kroger said.