Opposition leader Bill Shorten
Opposition leader Bill Shorten Chris Ison

Bill Shorten booed over turn back the boats plan

FROM abundant applause to enthusiastic booing, Labor's big talk-fest in Melbourne on Friday had it all.

Inside the exhibition centre, delegates were quick to show their outrage over the party's immigration policy backflip but warmed to the rest of leader Bill Shorten's address on everything from climate change to same-sex marriage.

In a speech some saw as an election campaign kick-starter, Mr Shorten said Queensland and Victoria's Labor election victories would go a long way towards making the Abbott Government Australia's first one-termer in 86 years.

James Scullin's ALP regime elected in 1929 and ousted in 1931 was the last one-term federal government.

"This erratic indulgent government, with their knee-high hopes for Australia's future, are trying to drag Australia in the wrong direction," Mr Shorten told the party faithful. "Australians deserve better than a PM who wants to make them afraid of the future."

Mr Shorten urged Tony Abbott to fight a climate change election

"Bring it on," he said as he confirmed his party's climate change policy would revolve around a renewable energy target of 50% by 2030.

He said an emissions trading

 scheme with cheap permits for international interests was also on the agenda.

"Climate change is not absolute crap, it is an inescapable fact."

Addressing the "elephant in the room", Mr Shorten said the ALP leadership's new immigration policy of turning back boats was part of the party's "humane" answer to border protection.

During the week Mr Shorten and frontbencher Richard Marles said a Labor government would continue the Coalition's tough stance on asylum seekers.

Anthony Albanese - Mr Shorten's one-time leadership rival - opposes the move, saying the party must have compassion for boat people and not "appeal to the darker side".

Mr Shorten also wants half of the party's MPs by 2025 to be female.

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