Bill Shorten

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The Honourable
Bill Shorten
Bill Shorten-crop.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Elections: 2016
Assumed office
13 October 2013
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Deputy Tanya Plibersek
Preceded by Chris Bowen
Leader of the Labor Party
Assumed office
13 October 2013
Deputy Tanya Plibersek
Preceded by Chris Bowen
Minister for Education
In office
1 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Peter Garrett (School Education, Early Childhood and Youth)
Succeeded by Christopher Pyne
Minister for Workplace Relations
In office
14 December 2011 – 18 September 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Chris Evans (Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations)
Succeeded by Eric Abetz (Employment)
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
In office
14 September 2010 – 1 July 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Chris Bowen (Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law)
Succeeded by David Bradbury
Assistant Treasurer of Australia
In office
14 September 2010 – 14 December 2011
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Preceded by Nick Sherry
Succeeded by Mark Arbib
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Maribyrnong
Assumed office
3 December 2007
Preceded by Bob Sercombe
State President of the Labor Party in Victoria
In office
Preceded by Linda White
Succeeded by Rupert Evans
National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union
In office
Preceded by Terry Muscat
Succeeded by Paul Howes
Personal details
Born William Richard Shorten
(1967-05-12) 12 May 1967 (age 49)
Melbourne, Australia
Political party Labor Party
Children 1 child (with Bryce)
2 stepchildren (with Bryce)
Education Monash University
University of Melbourne
Religion Anglicanism[1]
Military service
Service/branch Australian Army Reserve[2]
Years of service 1985–1986[3]
Rank Private[4]
Awards Centenary Medal[5]

William Richard "Bill" Shorten (born 12 May 1967) is an Australian politician who is the current Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia, in his capacity as Leader of the Australian Labor Party, after being elected party leader at the 2013 Labor leadership ballot. Shorten led Labor at the 2016 federal election at which the Liberal/National Coalition retained majority government.

Shorten was first elected to the House of Representatives seat of Maribyrnong in Victoria upon the defeat of the Liberal Government at the 2007 federal election and was immediately appointed as a parliamentary secretary. Following the 2010 federal election he was elevated to Cabinet and served as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation in the Gillard Government. From June 2013 he served as Minister for Education and Minister for Workplace Relations until the defeat of the Rudd Government later that year. Prior to entering Parliament, he was the national secretary of the Australian Workers' Union from 2001 to 2007. He was also the state president of the Labor Party in his state of Victoria.[1]

Early life[edit]

Shorten was born in Melbourne, where his father, William Robert Shorten—from Tyneside, England—was a waterside worker and union official. His mother, Ann Shorten (née McGrath), was a lawyer and university academic of Irish descent.[2][3] Shorten has a twin brother, Robert.[4]


Shorten was educated at St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Malvern East, Xavier College and Monash University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1989 and Bachelor of Laws in 1992. He also gained a Master of Business Administration from Melbourne Business School at the University of Melbourne in 2001.[5][6]

Union leader[edit]

In 1994, Shorten began his union career as a trainee organiser under the ACTU's Organising Works program at the AWU, before being elected Victorian state secretary in 1998.[7] Before taking this post, Shorten had decided to enter Victorian state politics, being selected unopposed as the Labor candidate for the state seat of Melton for the 1999 state election. However, he quickly gave this up to pursue his career with the union. His time as secretary was marked by a reform of the union's structures.

Shorten was elected as the AWU's national secretary in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005. He resigned as Victorian state secretary of the AWU in August 2007. He was an active member of the Labor Party and was a member of the party's national executive until 2011, as well as the administrative committee of the Victorian branch. He was also director of the Superannuation Trust of Australia (now Australian Super) and the Victorian Funds Management Corporation. From December 2005 until May 2008 he was the Victorian state president of the Labor Party. He was also a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive.[8] Until early 2006, he was a board member of[9]

During his time as AWU national secretary, Shorten was the interim chief executive of the Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA), following an alliance between the AWU and ANPA in 2005.[10] Shorten also served on the advisory board of the Australian Cricketers' Association.[11]

Political career[edit]

Shorten became active in the Labor Party while still a student, working part-time for federal Labor Minister Gareth Evans and state Labor Minister Neil Pope. He also worked for Bill Landeryou, Minister and later Leader of the Government in the Victorian Legislative Council during the Kirner Labor Government. After graduating, he worked for 18 months as a lawyer for Maurice Blackburn Cashman.[12] In 2005, Shorten announced that he would seek selection as the Labor candidate for the seat of Maribyrnong, which was already held by Labor MP and Shadow Minister Bob Sercombe. Justifying his challenge to a sitting Labor MP, Shorten said, "...we haven't won a federal election since 1993. When your footy team loses four consecutive grand finals, you renew the team."[13] On 28 February, Sercombe announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy for re-selection, a few days before the vote of local members in which Shorten was expected to poll very strongly. As a result, Shorten was selected unopposed to contest the seat.[14] During the Beaconsfield mine collapse, Shorten, as National Secretary of the AWU, played a prominent role as a negotiator and commentator on developments in the immediate aftermath and the ensuing rescue operations. The mine rescue operations drew mass national media coverage, and raised Shorten's political profile ahead of the 2007 election.[15][16]

Shorten in 2010.

At the election on 24 November 2007, Shorten was elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor Member for Maribyrnong. It was speculated that with his high public profile and general popularity within the Labor Party, he might immediately be given a front-bench portfolio; however, when asked about the possibility, new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said that he believed parliamentary experience was essential when designating front-bench portfolios. On 29 November, Rudd announced that Shorten would become Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services.[17] As Parliamentary Secretary, Shorten pushed hard for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, something which was later to become a key policy of the Labor Government.[18]

Shorten would later become one of the main factional leaders involved in the replacement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labor Party with Julia Gillard in the 2010 leadership challenge.[19] Following the 2010 federal election there was speculation that Shorten might seek to oust Prime Minister Gillard from her position within the year; former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke and former Labor Opposition Leader Kim Beazley had both previously endorsed Shorten as a potential future Labor Leader.[20] Shorten denied this speculation, and was promoted to the Cabinet as Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.[21] In 2011, he was also given the position of Minister for Workplace Relations.[22][23]

Following a period of persistent leadership tensions, Shorten announced immediately before a June 2013 leadership ballot took place that he would back Rudd against Gillard, and would resign from the Cabinet should she win.[24] Rudd subsequently won the ballot and became Prime Minister for a second time, appointing Shorten as Minister for Education, with particular responsibility for implementing the Gonski school funding reforms.[25]

Shorten is considered a moderate member of the Labor Party.[26][27] As with recent Labor leaders, Shorten supports an Australian republic.[28]

Leadership of the Labor Party[edit]

Following the defeat of the Labor government at the 2013 federal election, Kevin Rudd announced that he would stand down as Leader of the Labor Party. Shorten subsequently announced his candidacy to be his successor, in a contest with Anthony Albanese that would be the first time party members would be eligible to vote.[29][30] Shorten subsequently gained 63.9% of the party caucus vote and 40.8% of the rank-and-file members' vote, which when weighted equally gave Shorten a 52.02% victory over Albanese.[31][32]

Shorten speaking at the Labor campaign launch for the 2014 Western Australian Senate election.

His first speech acknowledged the role of women in his election success. He distanced himself from Tony Abbott's social conservatism, saying "I reject the assumption that merit is more located in the brains of men than women" and highlighting the proportion of women in Labor's leadership, with Tanya Plibersek as Deputy Leader and Penny Wong as Senate Opposition Leader.[33][34]

On 12 February 2015 it was announced that a Labor tribunal had discovered that 20 votes were redirected to the home of Councillor Hicham Zraika. Hicham Zraika was a staffer for Senator Sam Dastyari. Zraika was charged with branch stacking offences under party rules and falsifying the meeting records of his own branch and suspended for six months.[35]

Shorten had been consistently polling better than Abbott and Labor better than the Abbott Coalition Government from the July 2014 Australian federal budget until the September 2015 Liberal leadership ballot when Malcolm Turnbull succeeded Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia. Turnbull's honeymoon polling soared above Shorten with the Turnbull Coalition Government taking the lead over Labor. Brendan Nelson holds the record for lowest Newspoll "Better Prime Minister" rating of 7 percent (29 February-2 March 2008). Three leaders including Shorten hold the combined second-lowest rating of 14 percent – Simon Crean (28–30 November 2003), Malcolm Turnbull (27–29 November 2009) and Shorten (4–6 December 2015). The December 2015 Newspoll saw a continued 53-47 two-party vote to the government, however Turnbull's personal ratings were significantly lessened, with personal approval down eight to 52 percent and personal disapproval up eight to 30 percent.[36] Some media outlets opined Turnbull's honeymoon to be over.[37][38][39]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2000, Shorten married Debbie Beale, the daughter of businessman and former Liberal MP Julian Beale.[40] They divorced in 2008.[41] In 2009, Shorten married Chloe (née Bryce), who is the daughter of Michael Bryce and Quentin Bryce, who was the Governor-General of Australia at the time.[42][43][44] Shorten and Chloe live in Moonee Ponds with their three children: their daughter,[45] and Chloe Shorten's children from a previous marriage.[46]

In May 2012, the Shortens issued a public appeal requesting the cessation of an unspecified smear campaign about their marriage; Shorten was quoted by The Australian saying "personal lives and families should be off limits".[47]

Despite their sharp political differences, Shorten was best man at the wedding of his close friend John Roskam, executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ParlInfo – Biography for Shorten, the Hon. William (Bill) Richard". 5 December 1967. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Mum's family were Irish Catholic". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Rule, Andrew (26 September 2009). "The charm offensive". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Wright, Jessica (15 April 2014). "Bill Shorten farewells mother at private funeral in Melbourne". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Engaging in the Asian Century". Monash University. 22 May 2013. 
  6. ^ van Tiggelen, John (July 2012). "Watch This Face: Bill Shorten". The Monthly. 
  7. ^ Costa, Michael; Lloyd Ross Forum (1997). Reforming Australia's unions: insights from Southland magazine. Sydney: Federation Press. p. 75. ISBN 1-86287-248-1. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Parliament of Australia. Senators and Members. Bill Shorten. Biography. Retrieved 8 March 2014
  9. ^ Getup Annual Report 2005-06, p. 16.
  10. ^ Netballers join union for a better shot at fair pay, Sydney Morning Herald.
  11. ^ The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Q&A profile, ABC. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  12. ^ Cavill, Amanda. "Leader profile: Bill Shorten". SBS. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  13. ^ Schubert, Misha (4 February 2006). "I'm in: Shorten declares on safe seat". Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 4 December 2007. 
  14. ^ Shorten wins preselection battle: Lateline ABC 28 February 2006
  15. ^ Doherty, Ben (4 May 2006). "Shorten plays more than mere union man". Age. Fairfax. 
  16. ^ Coorey, Phillip (6 May 2006). "Voice of the miners is just the union ticket". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "Rudd hands out portfolios". ABC. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007. 
  18. ^ Van Tiggeen, John, The Monthly, July 2012.
  19. ^ "I urged Gillard to challenge Rudd: Bill Shorten". Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  20. ^ Goodsir, Darren (23 August 2010). "Bill Shorten to lead Labor Party?". 3AW blog. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  21. ^ Simons, Margaret (12 November 2005). "Fitting the Bill". The Age. Retrieved 24 August 2010. 
  22. ^ Hewett, Jennifer (18 September 2010). "Players assemble on the front line". News Limited. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "Gillard unveils expanded Cabinet". ABC News. Australia. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  24. ^ Murphy, Katharine (26 June 2013). "Labor leadership spill: Julia Gillard v Kevin Rudd – as it happened". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  25. ^ Ireland, Judith (26 June 2013). "Rudd returns as Labor leader, Gillard quits politics". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Kernell, G. (2014). "The 2013 parliamentary election in Australia". Electoral Studies. 34: 357–361. doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2013.12.002. 
  27. ^ Tucker, J. (26 September 2013). "Australia's 2013 election: A divided left and a step to the right". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ "Bill Shorten in Ballarat | Q&A | ABC TV". 21 September 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  29. ^ Cullen, Simon (13 September 2013). "Anthony Albanese to run for Labor leadership against Bill Shorten". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  30. ^ Maher, Sid; Perpitch, Nicolas (13 September 2013). "Bill Shorten stands and vows to maintain the carbon rage". The Australian. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  31. ^ Harrison, Dan. "Bill Shorten elected Labor leader". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  32. ^ Griffiths, Emma (13 October 2013). "Bill Shorten elected Labor leader over Anthony Albanese after month-long campaign". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  33. ^ Taylor, Lenore (14 October 2013). "Tanya Plibersek elected to be Bill Shorten's deputy". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  34. ^ Nicholson, Brendan (14 October 2013). "Star of the Left Tanya Plibersek helped Bill Shorten win". The Australian. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  35. ^ Nicholls, Sean (12 February 2015). "Bill Shorten's leadership ballot under scrutiny after Sam Dastyari's office redirected papers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  36. ^ Newspoll: 53-47 to Coalition – The Poll Bludger 7 December 2015
  37. ^ The honeymoon is over: David Speers/Switzer 3 December 2015
  38. ^ Honeymoon over for Malcolm Turnbull: Herald Sun 6 December 2015
  39. ^ Is the Turnbull honeymoon over?: Courier Mail 7 December 2015
  40. ^ David Marr (21 September 2015). Quarterly Essay 59: Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Path to Power. Black Inc. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-1-86395-753-3. He met Deborah Beale in his MBA class at Melbourne University. ... A few weeks before their wedding in March 2000, she persuaded Shorten to reconcile with ... 
  41. ^ James Kirby; Rod Myer (19 January 2011). Richard Pratt: One Out of the Box: The Secrets of an Australian Billionaire. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-0-7303-7612-5. One such friendship was with Labor MP Bill Shorten, former AustralianWorkers Union chief and ... Even when Bill and Debbie divorced in 2008 and Shorten ... 
  42. ^ Carbone, Suzanne (11 December 2009). "Shorten fits the Bill as referee for his ex-wife". Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  43. ^ "Bill Shorten to wed Chloe Bryce, Governor-General's daughter". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2010. 
  44. ^ Milne, Glenn (18 July 2009). "Bill Shorten and Chloe Bryce G-G's girl expecting a child". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  45. ^ "Baby Clementine wows Labor MP Bill Shorten and wife Chloe Bryce". Herald Sun. News Limited. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  46. ^ "Bill Shorten in love with Quentin Bryce's daughter". Courier Mail. News Limited. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  47. ^ "Bill and Chloe Shorten call for end to personal attacks in politics". The Australian. News Limited. 13 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  48. ^ Shorten is best man at Roskam's wedding,; accessed 22 May 2015.

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Terry Muscat
National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union
Succeeded by
Paul Howes
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Bob Sercombe
Member of Parliament
for Maribyrnong

Political offices
Preceded by
Chris Bowen
as Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
Succeeded by
David Bradbury
Preceded by
Chris Evans
as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Minister for Workplace Relations
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz
as Minister for Employment
Preceded by
Peter Garrett
as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Christopher Pyne
Preceded by
Tony Abbott
Leader of the Opposition
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kevin Rudd
Leader of the Labor Party