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Bill Shorten to skip Parliament for date with Canada’s Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will co-host a session with Bill Shorten at the Global Progress conference in Montreal. Photo: Adrian WyldEXCLUSIVE

Just don’t ask Bill Shorten to explain quantum computing or perform any incredible feats of upper body strength.

After Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s week on the world stage it’s Mr Shorten’s turn: the opposition leader will skip two days of Parliament this week to rub shoulders with heartthrob Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meet with officials in Washington DC and talk defence in Dallas.

Mr Shorten and Mr Trudeau will also co-host a session on the future of progressive politics at the Global Progress 2016 conference in Montreal. The Labor leader will no doubt be hoping some of Mr Trudeau’s star power rubs off.

Mr Trudeau is still riding high in the polls almost a year after he took power, unlike Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Shorten will also deliver a speech at the conference focused on equality and fairness.

“Fairness isn’t some warm and fuzzy feel-good notion to benefit some – it’s a driver of economic growth,” he told Fairfax Media.

“This is something conservatives just don’t get. Good social policy is not just about a strong safety net, and it’s not a matter of charity.

“It’s about investing in lifting people back into work, in supporting their full participation in our economy and our society.”

The conference is also expected to be attended by US Vice-President Joe Biden, Italian Prime Minister Matteo​ Renzi​ and senior leaders from Germany, the United Kingdom and South America.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other business and charity leaders will also attend. Mr Shorten will meet with a number of the leaders on the sidelines of the event before heading to the United States.

Mr Shorten will meet with officials in Washington DC, just two months out from the US election.

The Labor leader has been deeply and publicly critical of Republican candidate Donald Trump, calling him “barking mad”. However he’s likely to attempt a more diplomatic approach when he’s on US soil.

In Dallas, Mr Shorten will tour Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter facility. Australia is buying 72 of the next-generation fighter jets at a cost of at least $17 billion.

Mr Turnbull benefited from his time abroad last week, attending the G20 in China, the East Asia Summit in Vientiane and the Pacific Islands Forum in Micronesia. The trip allowed him to escape the domestic fray where the government is under pressure to reform the political donations system.

Mr Shorten will be abroad for five days, returning next Sunday.

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