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For the past two years, Bill Shorten has been attacking and rejecting $40 billion in budget repairs on the basis of fairness, and is now banking these very savings as part of Labor’s pre-election costings in his effort at appearing economically responsible. Can Labor be trusted to be so? Its deficit will be $57.5bn higher than the Coalition’s. His accusation that the Liberals have cut $57bn over 10 years from health, while he is not committing to its reinstatement, is deceitful.

His refusal to countenance a popular plebiscite on same-sex marriage when he had no such qualms three years ago is further evidence of his opportunism and deal making with the left of his party to silence them on the boat turnback issue, as he now does not trust Australians to have a civilised debate and vote on the issue. So much for his pretence of being a man of the people.

Mort Schwartzbord, Caulfield, Vic

Australians should be thanking Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. He’s shown us how a Labor government performs when led by someone beholden to unions. Fire trucks covered in graffiti and uniformed thugs at voting booths helped him to electoral victory. Now he repays the debt to the United Firefighters Union by crushing the independence of the volunteer Country Fire Authority.

Bill Shorten has said that he would run Australia like a union. When he was leader of the AWU, members’ penalty rates were reduced in exchange for money paid by employers to the union. He denied responsibility.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has been fined for criminal behaviour. No wonder that it paid for advertisements attacking Coalition attempts to strengthen controls over such illegalities. And it’s no surprise Shorten refused to support those regulations.

Michael Doyle, Ashburton, Vic

It comes as no surprise that Bill Shorten has done a backflip on same-sex marriage (“Shorten flips on gay plebiscite”, 29/6). Kevin Rudd did the same. In both cases it shows that some people will always put personal ambition ahead of principle and moral steadfastness and be blatant in their hypocrisy.

John McCarthy, Thornbury, Vic

Bill Shorten might have said, as he once similarly did about one of Julia Gillard’s comments: “I don’t know what my view on the plebiscite is, but whatever it is, I support it 100 per cent.”

Steve Moore, St Peters, NSW

What if the plebiscite isn’t passed? Will both sides respect a no vote?

John Clark, Burradoo, NSW