Shorten says ALP president fighting IS 'needs to come home'

FEDERAL Opposition leader Bill Shorten wants a former ALP territory president to give up his fight against the Islamic State.

Matthew Gardiner, 43, former president of the Northern Territory Labor branch, has joined a Kurdish militia in its fight against Isis.

The father of three was sacked from his ALP leadership role and his party membership revoked on Sunday.

Mr Shorten said yesterday he might have met the one-time Australian Defence Force member, but he did not know him well.

He would not discuss expelling Mr Gardiner from the ALP.

"I don't know what's triggered this even but he needs to come home," Mr Shorten told 3AW.

"Whatever the guy's motivations, he's not going to solve anything by going there and my thoughts are with his family actually.

"I think it's ... a bolt out of the blue.

"He's served in the military previously, he's been a union organiser, he obviously feels very strongly about fighting ... but I don't think that's the right way to go about it - just to up sticks."

Former colleague Luke Whittington said Mr Gardiner was passionate and had high principles.

"... there's also a feeling of admiration for someone being so principled as to go and fight for what he sees as a just cause in stopping Isis Daesh," Mr Whittington told the ABC JAN 26 yesterday.

"People who know him from the Northern Territory know he's passionate, but he's also level-headed and a professional bloke."

Mr Gardiner faces jail on return to Australia because it is illegal here to take part in the Syrian civil war.