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Bill Shorten Exclusive: 'Why I Deserve To Be Prime Minister.'

19/08/2015 8:11 AM AEST | Updated 08/08/2016 5:46 PM AEST
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Video by: Tom Compagnoni

Opposition leader, Bill Shorten says the issue of climate change will ultimately be the Prime Minister's undoing, describing the Abbott Government as a "right-wing experiment" gone wrong.

In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post Australia, Shorten declared he won't be a "small target political leader" and indicated he would be a "domestic" PM, if elected.

"I don't believe Mr Abbott will be running the Liberal Party in the future for too long," the Labor leader said, clearly relishing the Coalition's discomfort over the way forward on same sex marriage, the controversy surrounding Justice Dyson Heydon and continuing questions over the Prime Minister's judgement.

Tony Abbott has had to again warn Cabinet Ministers to improve discipline, while according to nervous Coalition MPs, next month's Canning by-election may prove to be the final test of the Prime Minister's leadership.

But it is the issue of climate change that Shorten wants to run with, painting Tony Abbott as a political relic who holds "flat-earth" views.

"Sooner or later common sense and the more moderate voices in the Liberal Party will have to re-emerge," he said.

The government has announced it will take to November's Paris climate conference a post-2020 emissions reduction target of 26-28 per cent by 2030 based on emissions from the year 2005.

It's been criticised by environmentalists as being lower than targets from comparable developed countries, a charge the government rejects.

The Minister leading the Australian delegation to Paris, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, told HuffPost Australia yesterday that the target was non-negotiable, credible and responsible.

Shorten said Abbott needs to show international leadership: "In the future, the other main political party in Australia will have to get on board with the science of climate change."

"Sooner or later science and evidence have got to defeat cliché and dogma and living in the past."

The Opposition Leader insists that the ALP's much vaunted "year of ideas" is not over.

So far in 2015, Labor has decided to take on multinational tax avoidance, promised to increase funding for family violence services and pledged a 50 percent renewable energy target by 2030.

"We will start putting in place, in the 100 days, the policies for that," Shorten said, going easy on the detail.

"I think the traditional wisdom that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them", needs to be challenged.

"I will not be a small target political leader."

That's exactly what Mr Shorten has been accused of, leading to questions about the opposition's entire power-seeking strategy.

On the back of appearances as a witness to the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption, Shorten has joined Abbott in the unpopularity stakes. Although the Labor leader's stocks are now improving.

Despite deep divisions within Labor on marriage equality, Shorten is trying to exploit similar pain in the Government. He's reaffirmed he will, in the first 100 days of a Labor government, introduce a proposed law for marriage equality. It would be a free vote with no guarantee of success. A binding Labor vote on the issue would be offered later.

"I think Mr Abbott's Government is a right-wing experiment which isn't working," he said.

Both major parties are now reaching out to female voters and potential female MPs and Senators.

On the weekend, Abbott said he would support targets, but not quotas, for female political representation, saying the Liberal Party would let itself down if it did not increase the percentage of women in parliament.

As Abbott pointed out, less than a third of federal and state parliamentarians are women. In the federal sphere, the Liberal Party has 22 percent female participation, Labor has 44 percent.

Shorten is already a convert, if not a practitioner: "We believe that women should be treated equally in our society."

"We will start putting in place policies in our first 100 days that mean that half the population get half the opportunities that the government can influence."

In relation to the Labor's plan beyond the borders, very little has been explored. Shorten is clearly more comfortable on the domestic front, explaining, "there's a big job to be done here at home".

"(But) in terms of our international role, I firmly believe should be an active international citizen. I believe in the work of Australia engaging in multilateral institutions, including the United Nations.

"I believe the rise of Asia is the fantastic opportunity for Australia in the next 100 years. Our American alliance is important. So Australia does not live on its own in the world."

Not far from the Abbott Government's claim to have a Jakarta-based, not Geneva-targeted foreign policy stance, Labor would focus on Australia's region. A newly elected Labor PM would head straight to Port Moresby or Jakarta when it comes to the first overseas visit.

The Opposition's recent bitter acceptance of the Coalition policy of asylum seeker boat turn backs is by-the-by for Bill Shorten, even though Indonesia abhors the practice.

"I think we will do a better job in our relationship with Indonesia full stop," Shorten said.

"I think Australians are up for change. There is a mood of national restlessness."

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