| 18.06,18. 05:39 AM |
Liberals 'will sell off' ABC if party wins next election, Shorten says
Photo: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Mr Turnbull is "afraid of his party". (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
Liberal members will be "emboldened" to sell the ABC if the party wins the next election, federal Labor is warning.
The Opposition has leapt on calls from Liberal Party members for the national broadcaster to be privatised, except in regional areas.
Senior government ministers are rushing to deny the Coalition has plans to sell the ABC, despite the motion passing overwhelmingly at the Liberal national conference this weekend.
"Frankly, it is outrageous that the governing party, the party in government in Canberra, are saying they want to privatise the ABC," Labor Leader Bill Shorten said.
The motion is non-binding, meaning it is unlikely to have any impact on the Government's policies. But the motions do provide an insight into the internal machinations of the party.
Cabinet Minister Mathias Cormann said the Government had been very clear about the broadcaster's future.
"In case you are worried, let me assure you the Government will not be privatising the ABC," Senator Cormann said.
"This is a conference for the rank and file, it's a conference for party volunteers to have their say.
"If that's the most important issue the Labor Party wants to focus on, a policy change that is not happening … then go their hardest."
The Coalition has been increasing pressure on the ABC, lodging several complaints with its Managing Director Michelle Guthrie.
Mr Shorten argued Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will come under immense pressure to go further, if he wins the next election.
"We've got this highly implausible fairytale where Mr Turnbull says I'm not really with them," Mr Shorten said.
"Well, he'll be the Liberal candidate for prime minister. If he gets another chance as prime minister after an election the Liberal Party will be emboldened and they will sell off.
"This idea that somehow Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party are two separate entities, two complete strangers sitting at a bar talking to each other, is rubbish."
Mr Shorten denied he had a similar problem with his party's Victorian members from the left wing, who want Labor to abandon its policy to maintain offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers.
"My track record of working with my party and making sure we're marching to the beat of the same drum is much better than Mr Turnbull's.
"I've made it clear that I will take the debate to my party. Mr Turnbull's afraid of his party."