#SnapSydney 2016.Sky News Newsreader Paul Murray in his LIVE, SKY NEWS studio. Photo: Adam Ward
#SnapSydney 2016.Sky News Newsreader Paul Murray in his LIVE, SKY NEWS studio. Photo: Adam Ward Adam Ward

OPINION: Bad days are ahead for Bill Shorten

BILL Shorten is off to a shocking start to 2018.

He's trying to convince us he's a man of integrity while the citizenship mess shows he's been anything but.

For so much of last year he mocked the Government and twisted the knife as Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, his deputy and Nationals Minister Matt Canavan went to the High Court. He laughed as One Nation lost a senator and made the most of it when The Greens and NXT also lost people to dual citizenship.

Shorten told the nation Labor had no MPs to worry about because the party's vetting process was beyond question. But we all knew this wasn't true. ACT Senator Katy Gallagher was sent to the High Court, as was Victorian MP David Feeney, who has never produced the paperwork to say he renounced his dual citizenship.

Feeney has come to represent much of what we hate about modern politicians. He 'forgot' to register a house he bought on Christmas Eve and worked hand in hand with Shorten to knock off Kevin Rudd and give Australia Julia Gillard.

But Shorten always refused to move on Feeney. He was a powerbroker who worked closely with Shorten and the protection racket run by Feeney's Labor mates thought they could ride it out. Just like Sam Dastyari, Shorten looked to hide the problems of his mates until hard work by the media and attacks from the Government made the situation so clear, even he could see it.

Feeney quit parliament on Thursday and there will be a by-election in his left wing seat of Batman in Melbourne.  The Liberals won't run a candidate leaving it to The Greens to build on recent state by-elections and take this once proud Labor seat.

But it's not over. Labor could go even further backwards if Longman MP Susan Lamb is sent to the High Court to answer her own dual citizenship question. This will almost definitely happen with the Government having the numbers to send her case to the courts. Labor only won Longman, just north of Brisbane, by 1300 votes in 2016.

The LNP is a big chance of winning the seat back because Labor only won with One Nation preferences, which, if they follow the recent state election rules, will be directed away from the sitting MP.

It is highly likely Shorten will be two seats down by the middle of the year and it doesn't matter what the polls say about a likely Labor win at a general election, the pressure will be on the would be PM.

Shorten's big idea to kick off the year is to set up a national integrity commission. Similar to the corruption commissions at the state level, the idea is to root out crooks in the public service and in the parliament. But the problem for Bill is he won't take on the crooks in his own ranks; he protected Feeney, Lamb and was dragged screaming to sack Dastyari.

Shorten also fails the purity test with his repeated failure to cut the CFMEU loose from Labor. Bob Hawke says the time has come for the party to walk away from the powerful union, but Shorten won't lift a finger. He wants their money and needs their muscle on polling booths in tight seats.

Shorten has been able to hide for way too long, leading Labor to a leading position in the polls largely because of great frustrations with the Liberals and Turnbull.

2018 is off to a bad start for Shorten and it's not going to change anytime soon.

Paul Murray is a broadcaster on Sky News. He can be seen weeknights 9-11pm AEDT on Paul Murray LIVE, Sky News Live (Foxtel Channel 601).

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