How Bill Shorten plans to beat Scott Morrison
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How Bill Shorten plans to beat Scott Morrison

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed to avoid personal attacks on new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but will hammer the government over economic policy ahead of an election even Coalition MPs concede will be a near-certain victory for Labor.

In an interview with Fairfax Media the day after Mr Morrison was sworn-in as Australia's fifth prime minister in five years, Mr Shorten said he was not afraid of facing a revamped Morrison government, and sought to position himself as the best option for voters and a business community tired of a decade of leadership instability in Canberra.

"Australians are already concerned the political system doesn't work. After this week that concern will have been only more disturbingly reinforced," he said.

"Labor has learned. We have learned that a party shouldn't use a political script which could be written by Quentin Tarantino.

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"The government also has their Kill Bill strategy. It doesn't work. We do not have a 'kill whoever the Liberal prime minster is' strategy. What we will do is look beyond individuals, as we have been doing, to what should be the policies for the nation."

Mr Shorten - who played a role in installation of Julia Gillard as well as Kevin Rudd's short-lived return to the prime ministership three years later - said the Liberal Party had not finished its bloodletting and predicted the conservative forces who forced Malcolm Turnbull from The Lodge would cause trouble for Mr Morrison.

"There's a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge which is not going to go away in the Liberal Party. I think the only way they're going to get their act together is from opposition. The reality is Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton are not going away.

"These continual leadership changes are not working for Australia because we are unable to make the big decisions for the next generation and we pay a price for it."

Labor leader Bill Shorten says he's ready to face a Scott Morrison-led government.

Labor leader Bill Shorten says he's ready to face a Scott Morrison-led government.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Labor is drawing up a strategy to highlight Mr Morrison's longstanding opposition to a banking royal commission before he bowed to pressure in November 2017 and ordered the probe. As treasurer, Mr Morrison once described demands for the inquiry as a "populist whinge".

The opposition also believes Mr Morrison's role as the chief salesman for the $35.6 billion plan to lower the company tax rate for big business - which has since been dumped - will damage the new Prime Minister.

In a letter to Labor supporters to be sent on Sunday, Mr Shorten pinpoints Mr Morrison as an "architect of economic unfairness".

"Scott Morrison didn’t just support Malcolm Turnbull’s out-of-touch, trickle-down agenda - he designed it," Mr Shorten will write.

Labor is also expected to move a no-confidence motion in the government when Parliament returns on September 10, but will have little chance of succeeding.

The party has been on a war footing since July, when it recorded a thumping swing against the Coalition in a byelection in the marginal Queensland seat of Longman. Labor has preselected candidates in government-held seats it wants to win.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the St Albans Market in Melbourne on Saturday.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the St Albans Market in Melbourne on Saturday.Credit:Chris Hopkins

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll - published before the Liberal Party turmoil and leadership change - suggested Labor was on track to win 20 seats at the next election.

"There is an argument this is a new government. It is not," Mr Shorten said on Saturday. "It's a government with a new person in the PM's office but it's not a new government, and you can't airbrush history."

Liberal MPs who spoke to Fairfax Media on Saturday feared new public polling this week would show Labor even further ahead in the wake of Mr Turnbull's removal, and thought Mr Shorten may pull ahead of the preferred prime minister measure.

If the Coalition is defeated at the next election - which must be held by May 2019 - Mr Shorten will have seen off three Liberal prime ministers: Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison.

Asked why voters should expect a Labor government would not eventually be plagued by instability, Mr Shorten pointed to his record in opposition.

"There's more pressure to keep a party together in opposition than in government because theoretically, being in government and having the power to do things is the glue that unites people," he said.

In a statement issued on Friday, Mr Shorten praised Mr Turnbull as a "formidable opponent, as an advocate of great intellect and eloquence and as someone who came to Parliament, relatively late in life, because he was driven by the desire to serve".

Bevan Shields is the federal editor and Canberra bureau chief for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra