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Shorten defends penalty rates robo-calls

Bill Shorten has defended a Labor party robo-call campaign on penalty rates, as the prime minister accused him of lying.

The federal Labor leader will address a rally at Williamstown in Victoria on Sunday.

Ahead of the rally, his party is Robo-calling Victorians urging them to lobby the government to protect penalty rates.

"Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to penalty rates will rip off 700,000 workers, losing up to $77 per week in pay," Mr Shorten says in the message.

The calls come in the wake of the Fair Work Commission's decision to cut Sunday rates for workers in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy sectors.

Having listened to part of a robo-call on 3AW radio on Friday, Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Shorten had previously pledged to support the independence of the Labor-created commission in making decisions on penalty rates.

The FWC had made its decision independently of the government, the prime minister said.

"He's the one that's broken his word and he's lying there," he told Neil Mitchell.

"(Mr) Shorten has no regard for the truth anymore than (ACTU secretary) Sally McManus has a regard for the law."

Ms McManus, the new secretary of the ACTU, has said she supports unions breaking the law if the laws are clearly unjust for workers.

Mr Shorten, who will bring to parliament on Monday a private bill to stop the penalty rates decision going ahead, hit back at Mr Turnbull.

"What is point of being prime minister if you are never going to stand up for workers?" Mr Shorten said.

"Cutting penalty rates for up to 680,000 Australians is absolutely the wrong decision and at a time when you have wages growth at a 20-year low and corporate profits at a 40-year high."

Mr Turnbull said the government, which is expected to make its submission next week before the March 24 deadline, backed the new rates being rolled out over two years.

"We do support it and I've been very clear about that," he said.

Labor is also expected to lodge its submission soon.

© AAP 2017

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