CANBERRA -- Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has taken a good long sniff at the shifting global political winds, telling fellow politicians that "politics as usual doesn't cut it" and "we need to lift our game".
And during an address to the National Press Club in Canberra focusing on job creation, Shorten warned of alienation and promised: "This year, I am going to remind myself as often as possible: people first, politics last."
The speech, designed to set Labor's agenda for 2017, included a re-hashed three point plan to tackle politician entitlement rorts, such as the still unresolved Sussan Ley entitlements controversy.
- Tighten the politicians expenses system and establish an independent oversight body;
- Clamp down on foreign donations through the long time Labor policy of lowering the disclosure threshold from $13,200 to $1,000;
- And look, through a Senate inquiry, to set up a National Integrity Commission.
He also vowed to help the Coalition pass the transparency reforms of the "Conde review" conducted in the wake of the Bronwyn Bishop "Choppergate" scandal.
— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) January 31, 2017
"All of us have a responsibility to clean up the system," Shorten said. "After nearly a year of sitting on the report, it's time for the Prime Minister to bring the legislation into the parliament."
"I will work with him to make it a priority. And if the Government continues to drag its feet, Labor will use parliament to crack the whip."
And he put it to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on a personal note.
"At 9am tomorrow -- seven months after the election -- Australians will finally discover how much their Prime Minister donated to his own campaign," the Labor Leader said.
"Why wait? Why hide behind a technicality? It's tricky, it's shifty. The Prime Minister owes Australians a lot better than the bare minimum."
The move on transparency and integrity comes a fortnight after Shorten opened the door to a federal corruption body when he stated there should be an "open and honest discussion" about a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
"There is one certainty in 2017: people are disengaged from politics and distrustful of politicians," Shorten said.
"Too many Australians think the political system is broken – and more than a few don't trust us to fix it."
Referencing the populist results of the UK Brexit result, the election of Donald Trump and the rise of One Nation in Australia, Shorten said there was a global "sense of alienation".
He directly addressed the crowd filled with journalists, politicians and Labor staffers.
"Virtually everyone in this room is considered part of the problem, part of the political class," he said.
"Rightly or wrongly, we are seen as members of the same insider club, letting down the rest of Australia. In these unusual times, politics-as-usual doesn't cut it."
Ley resigned from her Cabinet role as Health Minister despite saying she expected to have her name cleared in the two investigations into her use, or possible misuse of taxpayer funded travel entitlements.
Malcolm Turnbull has stated the results of the investigations will not be released, but Shorten insists better transparency and integrity is needed.
He's offered this promise: "This year, I am going to remind myself as often as possible: people first, politics last."
"I can't guarantee I'll always get that right -- but I'm going to try." Ambitious words from one of Australia's most senior politicians.
The Prime Minister takes the stage at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
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