Labor party leader Bill Shorten . Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Labor party leader Bill Shorten . Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

Labor praises Shorten after two long days in the box

LABOR has taken aim at the royal commission into trade unions following leader Bill Shorten's testimony this week.

Labor members rallied behind the Opposition Leader on Friday after commissioner Dyson Heydon questioned his credibility as a witness on Thursday.

An unnamed MP admitted to the ABC that Mr Shorten had "lost some bark" at the royal commission, but shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon said Mr Shorten had performed well as a witness.

"From what I have seen he has performed extraordinarily well," he said.

"He has answered all the questions over a very long two days and I think he has been able to demonstrate his commitment to those who he has represented all of his working life. I think it has gone very well for him."

READ RELATED: Royal Commission a 'rite of passage' in Opposition 

In Melbourne on Friday, Mr Shorten questioned the use of $80 million of taxpayers' money to fund the commission - saying it could be better used to combat domestic violence.

"It is not a fit and proper purpose to smear your political rivals," he said.

"Now it is time for the Liberal Government to get on with the job of running Australia rather than engaging in political smear campaigns. Do your day job, Mr Abbott.

"I am proud and willing to talk about what I've accomplished for Australian workers."

During his two days in the witness box, Mr Shorten rejected suggestions payments made by companies to the AWU while he was the union's Victorian and national secretary had created conflicts of interest.

The hearing heard company Thiess John Holland had paid the union $300,000 over three years after a deal was struck to build the EastLink road project in Melbourne.

Liberal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson told Channel 9 those payments were akin to bribes.

"I think what people are really interested in - imagine if you had a trusted mate buying a car for you, trying to get you a good deal. Then you find out your mate is getting a sling from the man who is selling the car - that's just dodgy," he said.

"If he is getting a sling off the car seller, how does he look after your interests?"

Mr Shorten slammed Mr Billson for pursuing the "politics of smear".


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