Basmah Qazi


Tue, 7 May, 2019

Bill Shorten hits back at report questioning his late mother’s legacy

Bill Shorten hits back at report questioning his late mother’s legacy

Bill Shorten has come under fire for leaving out a piece of important information when recounting the story of his late mother on Q&A.

The leader of the Labor party delivered a powerful message as he spoke about his beloved mother Ann, who passed away five years ago aged 79.

Speaking about his mother’s working-class background, Shorten revealed that she was the first person in her family to attend university.

Her dreams of being a lawyer were crushed after teaching appeared to be a more viable option so she could care for her siblings.

“She was the eldest in the family so needed to take the teacher scholarship to look after the rest of the kids,” he told the audience.

“My mum was a brilliant woman, she wasn’t bitter. She worked here (Monash University) for 35 years.

“But I also know that if she had other opportunities, she could have done anything. I can’t make it right for my mum. And she wouldn’t want me to.

“What motivates me, if you really want to know who Bill Shorten is, I can’t make it right for my mum, but I can make it right for everyone else.”

The story garnered praise and was dubbed as an election-winning moment, but the success was short-lived as Shorten was criticised for leaving out an important detail.

The Daily Telegraph reported that during her late '50s, Ann went on to become a barrister after graduating with a law degree from Monash University in 1985 with first-class honours. She practised at the Victorian Bar for six years.

She also was the founder of the Australian & New Zealand Education Law Association in 1991 and paid for her twin boys to attend the prestigious Xavier College in Melbourne.

But the aspiring Prime Minister shutdown the criticism by sending out a tweet on Tuesday night, saying the report was a new low on him and his mother’s legacy.

“I’ve told her story a lot in recent years. I told it two weeks ago when I launched Labor’s women’s policy. I told it again last night on Q&A,” wrote Shorten.

He then set the record straight about his mother’s story by releasing a speech from two weeks ago on how she went on to obtain a law degree from Monash University when she was in her 50s.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.

“I can't change what happened to my Mum. But I can change things for other people. And that's why I'm in politics.”

His tweet attracted an abundance of support from voters.

“Thanks for sharing that, Bill,” one person replied.

“We all think you’ll do your mum proud as Australia’s next Prime Minister.”

Another person said: “Thanks for sharing Bill – your mum obviously influenced your attitude towards and respect intelligent women – I’m looking forward to a Labor government.”