Bill Shorten examines the flag the protester was brandishing.
Bill Shorten examines the flag the protester was brandishing.

Bill Shorten ambushed by Adani protesters on stage

BILL Shorten's keynote speech at Labor's National Conference this morning got off to an awkward start as he was ambushed by protesters.

The audience of 400 delegates and 1000 observers at the Adelaide Convention Centre had been thoroughly warmed up by Labor's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, national president Wayne Swan and South Australian opposition leader Peter Malinauskas when Mr Shorten finally strolled onto the stage.

A protester quickly appeared behind him. As Mr Shorten took his position behind the lecturn, the man stood beside him and unfurled a banner bearing the words "Stop Adani".

"Will you please stop the Adani coal mine? There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading for a third bleaching event, we have to stop the Adani coal mine," he said.

"Oh mate. Alright," Mr Shorten said, before letting the man make his point.

"Thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag?" he asked.

"You can keep the flag if you like, absolutely, of course," the protester replied.

"Good on you mate, cheers. See ya," Mr Shorten said.

The man wasn't done.

"Really appreciate it Mr Shorten. It's going to be so important you do that. Thank you, catch you later. I really hope you come out with a commitment to stop the mine."

"No it's all good. Thank you very much, I appreciate you making your point."

At that point, Mr Swan intervened, and a security guard removed the man from the stage.

"I think our visitor should leave the stage now," Mr Swan said. "Show him the way out, thank you."

But the fiasco continued, as more protesters appeared at Mr Shorten's other shoulder.

"OK. Which one's this?" he quipped.

"We'll call for the escorts," Mr Swan interjected.

"We're Australia's oldest political party. We have a proud history of democracy, we all understand the right to protest. But that doesn't include the right to drown out the leader of the opposition. So could you please leave the stage?"

When he finally got some clear air, Mr Shorten addressed the crowd.

"I know these people are well-intentioned, but the only people they're helping is the current government of Australia," he said.

"I've waited for the next election for five years and if I've got to wait a couple more minutes, I just will.

"People have got a right to protest, but you've got to ask yourself when you see these protests - who's the winner? It's the Coalition.

"We've already had two protests and goodness knows what the current Prime Minister will do to try to upstage them."

The Labor leader is becoming well practised at handling interruptions.

Yesterday, while he toured Adelaide Central Market and spoke to the media, Mr Shorten was confronted by more Adani protesters who heckled him and urged him to "take action on climate change".