Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DANIEL MEERS

BILL Shorten is fac­ing the prospect of be­ing the La­bor Party’s most iso­lated leader – selling out both the left and right fac­tions in a bid to be­come the na­tion’s most pow­er­ful man.

La­bor is set to adopt a wa­tered down refugee pol­icy which will use turn­backs as an “op­tion” rather than of­fi­cial pro­to­col which has suc­cess­fully worked for the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment.

The pow­er­ful left fac­tion will also de­mand the refugee in­take dou­ble to 27,000 and tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion visas be dumped.

Mr Shorten also faces the prospect that chief lead­er­ship ri­val An­thony Al­banese could defy him and vote against the changes if the lan­guage goes too far.

It is un­der­stood Mr Al­banese, who has a high Green vote in his Syd­ney elec­torate, has told col­leagues he is un­easy about is­sue.

La­bor’s left


and right cau­cus held sep­a­rate meet­ings yesterday to dis­cuss crit­i­cal is­sues ahead of the party’s na­tional con­fer­ence which be­gins in Mel­bourne to­day.

Fac­tion­ally left back­benchers openly slammed Mr Shorten for mak­ing the an­nounce­ment be­fore na­tional con­fer­ence. One sug­gested the pol­icy was illegal.

Mr Shorten’s “flip, flop” pol­icy ap­proach has also an­gered the right who be­lieve a plan to have 50 per cent re­new­able energy by 2030 is selling out to the Greens and fear the Gov­ern­ment could have a “field day” if the turn­back pol­icy is wa­tered down.

It is un­der­stood Mr Shorten has gone public with the big­gest pol­icy back­flip in mod­ern pol­i­tics be­cause he is con­fi­dent he has the num­bers when the ALP na­tional con­fer­ence votes on the is­sue to­mor­row.

If he is rolled, it will de­liver a fa­tal blow to his lead­er­ship.

For­mer speaker and Vic­to­rian MP Anna Burke slammed Mr Shorten for mak- ing the pol­icy an­nounce­ment be­fore it even went to the con­fer­ence floor.

“I am very dis­ap­pointed by this overnight an­nounce­ment pre- empt­ing what is go­ing to hap­pen at con­fer­ence,” she said.

Left fac­tion heavy­weight MP An­drew Giles said he had con­cerns about the le­gal­ity of the is­sue.

“I’m con­cerned about the breach, as I see it, of in­ter­na­tional law,” he said.

Mr Shorten took to break­fast tele­vi­sion in a bid to sell his pol­icy change, but toned down his lan­guage from Wed­nes­day night where he ad­mit­ted La­bor had made mis­takes.

“I don’t think that when the pre­vi­ous pol­icy was brought in, peo­ple fore­saw the ex­tent to which the peo­ple smug­glers would ex­ploit the sys­tem,” he said.

“It’s im­por­tant to be hon­est with my party and the na­tion.

“And, if I was to form a gov­ern­ment, I would want the op­tion of boat turn­backs where safe to do so on the ta­ble.”

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