Bill Shorten Calls Tony Abbott 'Ineligible' To Lead Australia; Government Party-Room Leaks On Abbott'sTravel Entitlements

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 27, 2014 1:54 PM EST

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of being "ineligible" to lead the country.

REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (R) walks with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.

Bill Shorten is referring to government party-room leaks, saying that they reveal the government's incompetency.

Fairfax Media had earlier reported on the alleged leaked information, which revealed that Abbott had told MPs that his visit to Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday morning was to "justify" the travel entitlements that he used the previous night to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser. The Australian prime minister reportedly used his visit to the cancer centre as an "excuse" to bill taxpayers for his Monday night travel.

Abbott's office, on the other hand, dismissed allegations by stating that his visit to the fundraiser on Monday, Aug. 25, was well "within the rules."

"All of the Prime Minister's travel is undertaken within the rules. He was in Melbourne to talk about our Medical Research Fund," Abbott's spokesman said.

Parliamentary Secretary Steve Ciobo said that the allegations against the prime minister were "absurd."

"It is crystal clear the Prime Minister attends events right across the community in a range of areas and there's also a longstanding commitment to medical research," he said. "It is an absurd proposition to suggest the Prime Minister is doing anything other than remaining focused as he has been over many, many years to advancing medical research in Australia."

Veteran cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull also denied that the Aussie PM had said such things to the MPs. "No he didn't say that to the party room. He said he was in Melbourne and he did go to a private function," he said, "I think Tony was quite upfront and said that he had been in Melbourne and he had been to a fundraiser the night before."

Shorten pointed out, however, that the leak was evidence that the members of the Liberal Party were working against their leader. He has also demanded that the prime minister "have to explain what he's done."

"A party and a leader that cannot govern itself cannot govern Australia," he said.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer, on the other hand, defended Abbott by saying that the prime minister was allowed to travel anywhere for any purpose without being questioned about it.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

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(Photo: REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool / )
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (R) walks with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in central London August 12, 2014.
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