Here’s a tip (free of charge!): if you’re on national television and you want to stand by something your president/prime minister/chancellor/Grand Poohbah said, make sure you know what they said first. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking like Australian workplace relations minister Bill Shorten.

During a Sky News interview, the politician refused to take a stance on whether the country’s Speaker should be allowed to return to his role after he was accused of sexual harassment and misuse of funds, The Telegraph reports.

“Not knowing what Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was in Turkey at the time, had said on the topic he chose nonetheless to wholeheartedly agree with it,” the report adds.

“I haven’t seen what she’s said, but let me say I support what it is she said,” he told interviewer David Speers.

“Hang on, you haven’t seen what she said?” Speers asked.

Shorten nodded: “But I support what my Prime Minister said.”

Speers asked Shorten for his personal view.

“My view is what the Prime Minister’s view is,” Shorten said.

Really? He has no idea what the PM said but he supports it anyway? Wow, it’s kind of a reverse Rufus T. Firefly:

“Surely you must have your own view on this,” Speers persisted.

“No, when you ask me if I’ve got a view on this, it’s such a general question, it invites me to go to lots of places,” Shorten meekly replied.

No. No, we’re pretty sure the question was specific: should Peter Slipper be allowed to return to the Speaker’s chair even though he has been accused of sexual misconduct and is currently under investigation for misuse of funds. That sounds pretty specific to us.

Shorten stuck to his guns and reiterated his point: “I’m sure she’s right.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering what Shorten was agreeing with: the Australian PM said she believes Slipper should be reinstated in accordance with “a clear set of precedents where people have continued to function in their office while the subjects of civil matters,” Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman writes.

Shorten probably should have figured that out before going on TV.