Ministers attack Shorten over Killing Season 'trust' issues

FEDERAL Labor MPs rallied around Opposition Leader Bill Shorten following explosive claims in a television documentary in which former colleagues said he could not be trusted.

The claim was made on the ABC documentary The Killing Season which gave an insight into the Rudd/Gillard leadership coups.

Mr Shorten came under attack on Wednesday during question time when he asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the deal his government had struck with the Greens over pension changes.

Mr Shorten asked Mr Abbott how Australians could trust the government after he said before the election he would not do deals with the Greens.

"I am a little surprised the Leader of the Opposition should choose to start question time talking about trust given what we were told on The Killing Season," Mr Abbott said.

"As everyone knows, the quote in question was in reference to the formation of a minority government.

"But we all know what happened last time someone did a deal with the Greens to form a minority government.

"We know what that gave us . . . it gave us the absolute disaster of that term from 2010 to 2013 which we are learning so much about courtesy of the ABC.

"I want to say publicly to the ABC thank you . . . Australia is indebted to you on this instance."

Leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten in Rockhampton. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten. Chris Ison

But Labor backbencher Tim Watts defended his leader.

"I trust Bill Shorten completely," he said.

"The events that were on television on the ABC last night, they're not just ancient history for me, I wasn't even in the caucus when those events were going on.

"They're a completely different world to me. The caucus that I'm a member of is the most united Labor caucus that I can ever remember."

However the attack on Shorten did not stop there with nearly every government minister who was asked a question referring to what was aired in the documentary.

In the documentary, aired on Tuesday night, Julia Gillard's advisor Gerry Kitchener told the program that during a conversation about her new ministry in the days following the removal of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, powerbroker Mark Arbib warned her against trusting Mr Shorten.

"He said that you could not trust Bill Shorten ... that he would do Julia in," he said

"Arbib said the one thing she could not do was give him industrial relations portfolio because he would use it to solidify the union base to knock her off."

Mr Shorten was instrumental several years later in another leadership coup that saw Prime Minister Julia Gillard ousted and replaced with Kevin Rudd.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus earlier described the program as a fascinating piece of Australian historical television.

"That what it is ... it is history," he said.

"I know that there are people who will be wanting to make this television program yesterday and perhaps next week's episode current affairs, but it is not current affairs, it is a piece of history."

It is understood the ABC approached Mr Shorten to participate in the documentary but he declined.