Politics

Bill Shorten Has Ripped Into The Daily Telegraph Over A Gross Story About His Mum

Ann Shorten died in 2014. Stay classy, Daily Telegraph.

Bill Shorten mum

Bill Shorten has slammed the Daily Telegraph after it published a front page story accusing him of lying about his mum, calling it a “new low”.

The Daily Telegraph story, published with the headline “mother of invention”, accused Shorten of fibbing a bit when he told a moving story about his mother on Q&A earlier this week. On Q&A, Shorten told a moving story about his mum’s working class background, and how she’d had to sacrifice her dream of becoming a lawyer to instead take a teaching scholarship to support her family. The Daily Telegraph argued that Shorten had omitted a key fact, failing to point out that his mum did indeed become a lawyer later in life.

“In a new low, the Daily Telegraph has decided to use my mum’s life as a political attack on me, and on her memory,” Shorten responded on Facebook last night. “They think they know more about my Mum than I do.”

Shorten then pointed out that his mum’s eventual law career — which began when she was in her late 50s — doesn’t mean she didn’t have to make sacrifices earlier in her life. “Let me tell you about Dr Ann Shorten,” he wrote. “She was a brilliant woman. First in her family to go to university. They weren’t rich. She wanted to do law but had to take a teacher’s scholarship to look after her younger siblings.”

“She loved being a teacher and she was very good at it. She later became a teacher of teachers. She worked at Monash University for over three decades, but she always wanted to be in the law. Much later in life, in her 50s, she did just that. When my twin brother and I went to university, she was enrolled at the same faculty. When I was in my first year of law school, she was in her final year. She was her brilliant self and won the Supreme Court prize.”

“She finally realised her dream and qualified as a barrister in her late 50s. Mum was never bitter. She had a remarkable life and she felt very fortunate. But because of her financial circumstances, she didn’t get all of the opportunities she deserved.”

That was pretty much the point he made on Q&A in the first place, and it’s pretty clear that his mother’s later law career doesn’t negate it. Even Andrew Bolt has come out to back Shorten on this one, a rare and possibly never-to-be-repeated alliance.

Scott Morrison has also agreed the Tele went too far, telling reporters this morning that “look, this is a very upsetting story and I can understand that Bill would have been very hurt by that story. I mean, Bill lost his mother five years ago and I can understand that that would have upset him a great deal and I’m – I would only extend my best wishes to him”.

As for Shorten, on the campaign trail today he teared up a bit while taking about his mum. “I miss her every day,” he said. “I sometimes, you know, I get a sense of how she would react to things, because she was such a strong and clever woman. But I’m glad that she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish. Just rubbish.”