Bill Shorten has launched a scathing attack on the Coalition, labelling the Prime Minister “morally bankrupt” and reliant on an “insolvent senator”.
The federal Labor leader addressed the Queensland ALP state conference on the Gold Coast on Saturday morning, ahead of delegates debating issues ranging from an indigenous treaty to privatisation.
Mr Shorten said the Turnbull government was willing to risk “more guns on the streets” in exchange for Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm’s vote.
He also criticised the government’s support for Family First’s Bob Day continuing in the Senate, despite the founder of the collapsed Home Australia group saying his position was “untenable” while he was preoccupied with helping creditors.
“Although Bob Day himself has declared his position untenable, has left a trail of unpaid subcontractors and distressed families without completed homes behind him, the Liberals are willing to keep him in the Senate for just long enough to secure one more vote in their attack on unions,” Mr Shorten said.
“This is a morally weak Prime Minister. A morally bankrupt Prime Minister relying upon an insolvent senator.”
Mr Shorten also savaged a possible deal between the government and crossbenchers to push back the start date for a change to paid parental leave, which will strip up to $12,000 from women who are entitled to both taxpayer-funded leave and their own employer program.
“I’ve got to say to Senator [Nick] Xenophon and some of those others who just say they want to move the date of the legislation forward, it doesn’t matter when their rip-off starts, it’s unfair every day and the date of a woman’s pregnancy shouldn’t determine whether something is the case or isn’t the case – it’s unfair,” he said.
“Unfairness was a bad idea in 2015, unfairness doesn’t cease to be unfair because of the date when it’s introduced – it’s a bad idea.
“I’m not worried about the start date for these cuts, because if Labor has its way, there will be no start date at all.”
Mr Shorten also acknowledged the “shadow” the conference was being held under following the four deaths in Tuesday’s Dreamworld tragedy and Friday’s fatal attack on a bus driver in Brisbane’s south.
“Let us spare a thought for those families trying to make some sense of what is simply a nightmare,” he said.
“And all our hearts go out in grief and sympathy to those in the middle of this horrible tragedy.”
Among the proposed changes to the ALP’s platform is a commitment to formalise “a treaty between First Nations People of Queensland and the Queensland government as a priority”.
Party members will also debate a change to Labor’s values statement, inserting it believes “the public, through their government, should own and control vital assets and services”.
A further change would insert the sentence: “In instances where the government owns or operates services, assets or infrastructure, Labor commits to retaining these in public ownership during government and rejects privatisation of essential services in any form. ”
Ahead of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse reporting next year, the conference will debate a motion calling on the state government to “respond legislatively” to the report.