Bill Shorten is under increasing pressure over his past with the Australian Workers Union

Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty Images.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten is under increasing pressure from the Federal Government over claims that an unusual deal was struck with building company Winslow Constructors in 2005 when he was secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

Christopher Pyne today questioned the exact benefits Winslow received after making payments to the union.

“What did Winslow get in relation for their payments to the union?” he said this morning on Network Ten’s Bolt Report.

“Businesses don’t give money to unions because they like the cut of the job of the union secretary or the smile on their face; they pay money to unions to get consideration in return. What Bill Shorten hasn’t explained is, what was that consideration?”

Pyne further told the network that Shorten’s inability to comment just “doesn’t cut the mustard”.

“If this was so above-board, and there was no reason for anybody to try and hide it, why did Winslow Constructions describe their payments to the AWU as for safety training, when they were actually being used for AWU memberships?”

The Labor leader has agreed to front the royal commission in August or September to address claims that “he was allowing their pay and conditions to be less than they should have been”.

According to Fairfax Media, receipts and emails from 2005 revealed that the Melbourne construction company had paid almost $40,000 for 105 union memberships.

Shorten’s ALP colleague Richard Marles has accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of running a “smear campaign” against the Opposition leader.

On Saturday, Shorten told reporters: “I’ve made it very clear I’m happy to attend the royal commission and to cooperate fully.”

There’s more here.

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