• Bill Shorten says Trump is ‘victory of celebrity politics’
  • PM criticizes Shorten for interfering in American politics

Bill Shorten, the leader of Australia’s main opposition Labor party, described some of Donald Trump’s views as “barking mad,” earning a rebuke from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for interfering in U.S. politics.

“My party is very supportive of the Australia-America alliance” and a Labor government would work with whoever is elected U.S. president, Shorten said in a radio interview Friday. “But I got in trouble on the campaign trail for saying what I think. I think Donald Trump’s views are just barking mad in some issues.”

Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Photographer: Pool/Getty Images

By airing his opinions on the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Shorten broke an unwritten convention that Australia’s leaders don’t comment on political contests overseas -- particularly in the U.S., its most important strategic ally. Australia is in the midst of an eight-week election campaign, with Shorten’s Labor party narrowly ahead of Turnbull’s Liberal-National coalition in opinion polls.

“America is a great friend of Australia,” Shorten said. “Whoever they dish up we’ll work with but, wow, that Trump sort of, it’s the sort of the ultimate victory of celebrity politics.”

Turnbull, who is seeking a second term for the coalition in the July 2 election, said Shorten should have kept his views private, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

“Our relationship with the United States is very strong,” the ABC cited Turnbull as saying. “Ill-judged remarks here and there are not going to put it at risk,” but prime ministers and prospective prime ministers should “bear in mind that the election in the United States is a matter for the Americans.”

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