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Labor on attack as Turnbull talks terror

AAP logoAAP 23/09/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Malcolm Turnbull has wrapped up his United States visit upbeat about the possible battlefield defeat of Islamic State and talking up the benefits of free trade.

The prime minister met US intelligence and security chiefs in Washington at the end of his weeklong visit, in which he addressed the United Nations General Assembly and pledged more support for refugees.

"The good news in terms of the battle against Daesh or ISIL is that we are continuing to roll them back and we look forward to further gains over the course of the next six months or so. There is a very real prospect of completing the defeat of Daesh in the battlefield," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

However. he said the threat from lone-wolf terrorists in the US and Australia would get worse before it got better.

Mr Turnbull also urged American lawmakers to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, labelling it "a symbol and substance not only of free trade but of America's commitment to the Asia-Pacific".

Critical of the substance of the prime minister's trip, Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters at a OneSteel plant in Sydney on Friday Mr Turnbull needed to spend $50 million to protect steelworker jobs whose livelihoods were threatened by global factors.

Mr Shorten also took aim at the government school funding plan which was the subject of talks in Adelaide involving state and territory education ministers and federal minister Simon Birmingham.

"How out of touch is Malcolm Turnbull that he doesn't understand that, regardless of whether or not you live in a harbourside mansion or Western Sydney, giving kids the best start in life is the number one priority of any self-respecting government?" Mr Shorten said.

The meeting ended with state ministers declaring no formal funding offer had been put on the table and calling on the commonwealth to honour its previous commitments under the Gonski model.

Senator Birmingham said he had not been looking for a final result from the meeting, but rather "informed feedback" from his fellow ministers ahead of a final proposal going to the premiers and prime minister in the first half of 2017.

He was confident further talks would come up with a plan under which school funding would be distributed fairly according to need and equitably across the states, while improving student results, but admitted there was "not as much money as the Labor Party promised" in 2013.

Meanwhile, Labor is expected to hold talks with the government on another contentious issue - the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, who will meet Attorney-General George Brandis, told a conference in Melbourne equal rights should not be denied to people "because they do not match with what our idea of love should be".

"'Love thy neighbour' does not come with conditions," he said.

Two potential compromises on the plebiscite bill, which will need Labor support to pass parliament, include the dropping of public funding for the yes and no campaigns and a self-executing bill which would not need further parliamentary approval to change the Marriage Act.

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