Former Labor leader Bill Shorten has committed to a future in the Federal Parliament, vowing he has “still got the fire for politics” in his first formal interview since May’s election loss.
Mr Shorten has kept a low profile since he stepped down as Labor leader after his party lost an election most expected it would win.
In an interview with the ABC, he broke his silence and said he had grieved losing an election that would have made him prime minister.
“[It was] disappointing for me, and I think disappointing for a lot of people,” Mr Shorten said.
“But nonetheless it’s happened.
“The people have expressed their view, so we’ve got to move on and be the best possible Opposition.
“It’s a privilege to serve in Parliament and I’ve still got the fire for politics.”
Mr Shorten remains on the Labor frontbench, with his successor Anthony Albanese charging him to oversee policies for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and government services.
“I love being in politics, it’s a chance to make a difference,” he said.
The former leader would not be drawn on whether Labor should abandon the policies it held when he was in charge of the party.
But he was adamant Labor would continue to advocate for its values.
“The party is reviewing the whole election and what I am going to do is give time for that process to happen,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten said he had spent time with his family since the election result.
“What I have been able to do is reconnect with my family,” he said.
“That is a silver lining.”
But he was tight-lipped on the advice his wife Chloe offered him after the election.
“She can speak for herself. As people know, she’s a very capable lady,” he said.
“She put up with six years with me as opposition leader. I think she’s got the right to speak for herself.”
Shorten takes aim at robodebt
Mr Shorten repeatedly spoke of the “united Labor team” under new leader Mr Albanese.
Mr Albanese was uncontested in his bid for the leadership, having lost to Mr Shorten in 2013.
Mr Shorten also used his return to the political landscape to slam the Coalition and called for an overhaul of Centrelink’s so-called robodebt methods.
The electronic system compares income reported by welfare recipients with data held by the Australian Tax Office.
If there is a discrepancy, people are often automatically sent a notice asking for further information, such as payslips from years earlier.
A debt can then be raised if people do not provide their past employment details.
The ABC’s 7.30 revealed Centrelink was pursuing debt from a disability pensioner who had died.
Centrelink contacted the dead man’s mother, saying he owed nearly $7,000.
“The robodebt system is causing untold hardship, it’s seriously malfunctioning,” Mr Shorten said.
“It’s causing unnecessary distress and I think the Government needs to go back to the drawing board.”
The Coalition is standing by its robodebt policy, with Government Services Minister Stuart Robert insisting it was the department’s responsibility to track down overpayments.