Shorten: 'Turnbull Has Decided To Put His Own Future Ahead Of Australia's'

21/03/2016 2:07 PM AEDT | Updated March 21, 2016 16:18

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says Malcolm Turnbull is in "full panic mode" following the Prime Minister's decision to recall parliament ahead of a possible double dissolution election.

Speaking in the wake of the PM's decision on Monday to recall parliament on April 18, Shorten said the move was evidence Turnbull was putting himself ahead of the nation.

"Mr Turnbull has decided to put his own future ahead of Australia's future," he said in Canberra.

"This is the Liberal Party looking after their own, but in the process, everyone else pays for it."

In an address that often sounded like an election pitch, Shorten spruiked Labor's plans for "failing to deliver" on meaningful policy reform.

"We are not afraid of a double dissolution election," Shorten said defiantly.

"Australians are not afraid of a double dissolution election either. They just want people to get on with their interests, rather than playing political games.

"We will fight on critical issues important to Australians such as a properly funded school system and a Medicare system where it is your Medicare card not your credit card which determines the sort of health care you get."

Earlier, Turnbull said parliament was being recalled three weeks early to debate 2 bills that, if not passed, would result in a double dissolution election.

Turnbull said he had called upon the Governor-General, requesting he recall both houses to debate the reinstatement of a construction industry watchdog.

The bills would reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and establish the Registered Organisations Commission, with both bills already having been rejected by the Senate once.

Monday's announcement means the budget will be brought forward by a week to May 3.

Addressing the stalemate over the bills, Shorten conceded there were problems of corruption in the union movement but the ABCC was not the right way to fix it.

He said rehabilitating the construction watchdog would only add to industrial bureaucracy but insisted the ALP was "absolutely committed" to reform in the area.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Turnbull was continuing the divisive leadership of the Abbott era and called the ABCC bill very simply "bad legislation".

"It's bad legislation, because it singles out one group of workers and strips away basic rights from them. Treats them worse than common criminals. Rather than acknowledging that if we have an issue with corruption in Australia, it's an issue that permeates not just through one sector of the economy, but through industry, indeed through government," Di Natale told reporters on Monday afternoon.

"What we need if the Prime Minister is serious about the issue of corruption is a broad-based anti-corruption watchdog at a Federal level."

Di Natale also advised the Prime Minister to develop an economic agenda before calling an election.

"Where's your tax plan? Where is the response to the so-called budget emergency? Where are the revenue measures we know are so desperately needed if we're to start funding schools and hospitals? Where are those things, Mr Turnbull? So far, nothing."

Shorten also took particular aim at the Prime Minister's plans for tax reform.

He said the coalition was "addicted" to a trickle down theory of economics that was discredited and that would primarily reward foreign investors.

"When he talks about tax reform, it is a much diminished proposition," he said.

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