Basmah Qazi

Meet Bill Shorten’s first wife – Deborah Beale

Meet Bill Shorten’s first wife – Deborah Beale

Ask any Australian about a man named Bill Shorten and chances are, they’ll know exactly who you’re talking about.

And with the upcoming federal election looming, Bill and his wife Chloe Shorten have been partners in crime as they campaign for the top spot of Prime Minister.

But while the couple regularly grace our television screens, what you may not know is that years before the pair crossed paths, Bill was actually married to someone else.

The leader of the Labor party married his first wife Deborah Beale in 2000, well before he entered the political scene.

Bill Shorten and Deborah Beale (left) - Source: Twitter

And Deborah wasn’t an ordinary woman either, as she was the daughter of Melbourne billionaire and former Liberal MP Julian Beale.

During that time, Bill was the national secretary of the Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) and a few years later, in 2007, he was elected as Labor MP for Maribyrnong.

The two never shared any children together, but despite not having a family of their own, they shared a happy and loving marriage.

The politician even mentioned Deborah’s name during his maiden speech in February 2008, giving her a special shout out.

“Above all others – and I can say this on Valentine’s Day – I thank my wife, Deb Beale, an endlessly intelligent, supportive and loving woman,” he said.

“I knew this instantly from my first outing, when she agreed to visit a picket line with me.”

In 2007, Bill revived his friendship with the then Chloe Bryce.

They had met before, at a resources industry conference back when Bill worked for the AWU.

“He was the headline act,” wrote Chloe in her book Take Heart: Story For Modern Stepfamilies, “and I was off-off-Broadway, in a steering group.”

When the two met, Chloe said that she was “in the slow and difficult process of separation from my first husband, and it was a very stressful time for my family.”

She’s the offspring of the esteemed former Governor General Quentin Bryce, whose house is where the two reconnected.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, it was shortly after that meeting when Bill ended his marriage with Debbie in 2008 and revealed that he and Chloe were dating.

Bill and Debbie have yet to give their version of what exactly happened the night they split up, but Labor insiders told The Telegraph that Bill broke up with Debbie at an AFL game, saying he didn’t “think” he “wanted to be married anymore.”

The insider said the admission “totally shocked” Debbie.

In 2009, Chloe and Bill announced their engagement, followed by baby news, as the couple were expecting their first child together.

Debbie was contacted for her input on the situation, but she simply declined to comment after saying “You’re tempting me.”

According to friends of Debbie, when Bill revealed Chloe was pregnant, he was still going through the divorce process with his first wife.

Former Governer General, Dame Quentin Bryce

“Interesting that Mr Shorten and Ms Bryce are expecting a baby, while both remain married to other people,” they said.

Fast forward to present time, the Shorten’s have their own family consisting of Clementine who the two share together, and her half-siblings from Chloe’s first marriage.

Sitting down with The Australian Women’s Weekly in 2017, Bill said he has no intention of trying to replace the role of Chloe’s kids – Rupert and Georgette’s – father, saying he wants to help parent them instead.

“For the older two, they call me Bill,” he said.

“But the little one goes from calling you ‘Daddy’ to ‘Bill’ and she naturally started doing that,” said Chloe.