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PM's 'shout' about respect riles Labor

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December 05, 2017

The prime minister attacked Bill Shorten and Labor over the party's approach to domestic violence.

Domestic violence usually invites sober debate devoid of partisan politics.

Such was the expectation when Bill Shorten stepped up to the dispatch box in federal parliament during question time on White Ribbon Day.

In low tones, the opposition leader invited Malcolm Turnbull to join with Labor in supporting 10 days of legislated paid domestic and family violence leave.

Shorten had announced the policy during a breakfast the pair attended in Canberra earlier in the day.

The prime minister rose, speaking first in convivial tones, to congratulate the opposition on their shared commitment to end violence against women.

He declined to back Labor's position, saying the matter was before the workplace umpire, instead rattling off a range of measures his government was pursuing to curb violence.

"In our roles as fathers, sons, brothers, colleagues, mates and leaders, all of us are capable of saying that behaviour, that language is not OK. When we see someone showing disrespect," Turnbull said.

Opposition backbenchers slumped in their chairs, arms crossed and heads shaking.

Turnbull then dramatically changed tack, raising his voice to berate Shorten for visiting a CFMEU picket line, despite reports its members were running "outrageous campaign of vile abuse".

Labor's Tony Burke tried to cajole the prime minister back to the question, but Turnbull was on a roll, sweeping the interjector up in his response.

The prime minister suggested Burke's remarks showed he too "fundamentally misunderstands" the cause of domestic violence.

"It is disrespect for women. You have got members of the CFMEU threatening domestic violence, and does he condemn it? No," Turnbull thundered across the chamber.

It was about time the opposition leader stood up for something, the PM said.

"He could stand up for respect for women, he could stand up for Australia, he could stand up for the security of our country."

The opposition benches erupted, accusing the prime minister of stooping to grubby politics.

"On a day like today," shouted Labor's Emma Husar, herself a survivor of family violence, as she pointed to a white ribbon pinned to her chest.

"By all means, prime minister, shout at us about respect," Labor's Terri Butler said.

The opening question passed, and on came another about stamping out foreign donations and influence.

Turnbull insisted "this should not be a partisan issue", before launching into attacks on embattled Labor Senator Sam Dastyari's dealings with a Chinese donor, which would dominate much of the next hour.

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