Bill Shorten said some quite wonderful things on Q&A.

Bravo, Bill.

Tonight’s Q&A ditched its usual panel format to feature just a single panellist: Opposition leader Bill Shorten.

And with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull soaring in the polls, Shorten’s appearance on the popular ABC programme was a real sink-or-swim moment for the Labor leader.

Shorten wants to make gender equality a priority, he said on Q&A. (Screenshot: ABC)

Fortunately for him, the general consensus among viewers was that he aced his Q&A appearance — eloquently addressing issues from disability, to domestic violence, to wind turbines.

If you missed the episode, we’ve summarised the key moments from last night’s show for you:

1. His remarks on gender equality

Mr Shorten had viewers cheering from their lounge rooms when he launched into a passionate mini-speech on gender equality.

The impressive comments came at the very end of the program, when an audience member asked Mr Shorten what fundamental changes could be made to take advantage of opportunities brought about by the new economy.

Shorten barely hesitated before reeling off a list of priorities: education, infrastructure, science and technology, fairness… and women.

“I think the fifth area that I think we can really make this country sing: just treat women equally,” he said.

“We’ll start in Labor. By 2025, half of our MPs, at least half, will be women. We want to see 50% of all government boards positions being women. And also, we think it’s well overdue to tackle domestic violence,” he continued.

“If this nation does nothing else in the next 15 years but treats women equally, we’re home. We’ve got a good future.”

At that, the audience broke into a loud round of applause.

2. His pledge to work with Malcolm Turnbull on climate change, marriage equality and domestic violence

When an audience member asked him to specify which issues he would work with the government “to arrive on consensus, for the good of the nation,” Mr Shorten’s response did not disappoint.

He listed climate change, marriage equality and domestic violence — as well as an increased focus on science and technology — as key areas with which Labor would work with the Federal government.

“One issue which I think we can work together on is climate change. I do believe that we can encourage the government to have a renewable energy future, to perhaps be bolder than their current policies on tackling climate change,” he began.

“If he wants to go back and be fair dinkum on climate change, my party will back it.”


“Another issue I’d like to work together is the issue of domestic violence… I don’t think we need to wait ’til an election to really tackle domestic violence.”

The Opposition leader also couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a swipe at the Federal government’s plan to wait for a plebiscite to move forward on the same-sex marriage issue.

“We could work with Malcolm Turnbull on marriage equality. We’re happy to have a conscience vote right now,” Mr Shorten said.

“We don’t need to have an ongoing debate over the next number of years to have a taxpayer-funded opinion poll of $160m which we know was designed by Tony Abbott to delay marriage equality.”

3. His commitment to needs-based school funding

An audience member asked about funding for schools, questioning whether government funding for education according to individual student needs is the best approach — or whether we should do away with private schools altogether, as in Finland.

Shorten said he didn’t think we needed to follow the Finnish model of abolishing private schools, but confirmed his commitment to “individual, needs-based funding” for schools — a model created by the former Labor Government, based on the Gonski Review’s 2011 recommendations.

“Labor will do needs-based funding in the schools, that will be our policy at the next election,” he said.

He added that the scheme could be funded by closing the the loopholes relating to superannuation tax concessions, and by raising further taxes from multinationals who do business in Australia.

4. His comment that we should become a republic

When an audience member asked whether it was time to become a republic, Mr Shorten responded with an emphatic “yes”.

“Yes, I think we should become a republic. In 2020 it will be 2050 years since Captain Cook made first landfall in Australia,” he said.

“In that time, we are ready. We are ready to have an Australian head of state.”

Viewers took to Twitter to praise Shorten’s performance, with several commenting that his apparently unscripted responses worked in his favour.

Others praised him as “impressive” and “courageous”:

Well played, Bill.

What did you think of Bill Shorten’s Q&A appearance?