Bill Shorten

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Bill Shorten

Bill Shorten-crop.jpg
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
13 October 2013
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
DeputyTanya Plibersek
Preceded byChris Bowen
Leader of the Labor Party
Assumed office
13 October 2013
DeputyTanya Plibersek
Preceded byKevin Rudd
Minister for Education
In office
1 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Prime MinisterKevin Rudd
Preceded byPeter Garrett
Succeeded byChristopher Pyne
Minister for Workplace Relations
In office
14 December 2011 – 18 September 2013
Prime MinisterJulia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded byChris Evans
Succeeded byEric Abetz
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
In office
14 September 2010 – 1 July 2013
Prime MinisterJulia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded byChris Bowen
Succeeded byDavid Bradbury
Assistant Treasurer of Australia
In office
14 September 2010 – 14 December 2011
Prime MinisterJulia Gillard
Preceded byNick Sherry
Succeeded byMark Arbib
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Maribyrnong
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded byBob Sercombe
Personal details
William Richard Shorten

(1967-05-12) 12 May 1967 (age 51)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Citizenship Australia
 United Kingdom (1967–2006)[1]
Political partyLabor
  • Debbie Beale
    (m. 2000; div. 2008)
  • Chloe Bryce
    (m. 2009)
RelationsJulian Beale
(former father-in-law)
Michael Bryce
Quentin Bryce
ResidenceMoonee Ponds, Victoria, Australia
EducationXavier College
Alma materMonash University
University of Melbourne
OccupationEmployment lawyer
(Maurice Blackburn)
Trade union organizer
(Australian Workers' Union)
ProfessionTrade Unionist

William Richard Shorten (born 12 May 1967) is an Australian politician who has been Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labor Party since October 2013.

Prior to entering Parliament, Shorten was the National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union from 2001 to 2007. He was also the State President of the Victorian Labor Party.[2] Shorten was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 for the Division of Maribyrnong in Victoria, and was immediately appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary. Following the 2010 federal election, he was elevated to the Cabinet and served first as Assistant Treasurer and then as Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Workplace Relations in the Gillard Government. In 2013 he was briefly Minister for Education until the defeat of the Rudd Government later that year.

After the defeat, Shorten stood in the subsequent leadership election against Anthony Albanese, the first such election that allowed a vote of party members as well as Members of Parliament, and was declared the winner on 13 October. Shorten went on to lead Labor to gain 14 seats at the 2016 federal election, when the Liberal/National Coalition retained majority government by one seat.

Early life[edit]

Shorten was born in Melbourne, where his father, William Robert Shorten—born in Tyneside, England—was a waterside worker and union official. His mother, Ann Rosemary Shorten (née McGrath), was a lawyer and university academic of Irish descent.[3][4] Shorten has a twin brother, Robert.[5]

According to a statement given during the 2017 dual citizenship scandal, Shorten held British citizenship by descent until 2006, when he renounced it in order to run for parliament.[6]

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.[7][8] Shorten was a member of the Australian Army Reserve from 1985 to 1986, holding the rank of private.[9]

Union leader[edit]

In 1994, Shorten began his union career as a trainee organiser under the ACTU's Organising Works program at the Australian Workers Union (AWU), before being elected Victorian state secretary in 1998.[10] 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.[11] Until early 2006, he was a board member of[12]

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.[13] Shorten also served on the advisory board of the Australian Cricketers' Association.[14]

Early 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 eighteen months as a lawyer for Maurice Blackburn Cashman.[15] 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 an incumbent 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."[16] 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.[17] During the Beaconsfield mine collapse, Shorten, as National Secretary of the AWU, played a 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.[18][19]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Rudd Government[edit]

Shorten in August 2010.

At the 2007 federal election, Shorten was elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor MP 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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]

Gillard Government[edit]

Following the 2010 federal election, there was speculation that Shorten might seek to oust Prime Minister Julia 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.[23] Shorten denied this speculation, and was promoted to the Cabinet as Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.[24] In 2011, he was also given the position of Minister for Workplace Relations.[25][26]

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.[27] 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.[28]

Shorten is considered a moderate member of the Labor Party.[29][30] As with recent Labor leaders, Shorten supports an Australian republic.[31]

Leader of the Opposition[edit]

Shorten (right) meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, in 2014

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.[32][33] 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.[34][35]

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.[36][37]

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. 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% (29 February-2 March 2008). Three leaders including Shorten hold the combined second-lowest rating of 14% – 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% and personal disapproval up eight to 30%.[38] Some media outlets opined Turnbull's honeymoon to be over.[39][40][41]

In early 2015, leading up to Australia Day, Shorten called for a new push for Australia to become a republic.[citation needed] Former ARM chair Malcolm Turnbull said upon his appointment as Prime Minister in September of the same year he would not pursue "his dream" of Australia becoming a republic until after the end of the Queen's reign, instead focusing his efforts toward the economy.[42] In July 2017, Shorten revealed that should the Labor Party be elected to government at the 2019 federal election, they would legislate for a compulsory plebiscite on the issue. Should that plebiscite be supported by a majority of Australians, a referendum would be held, asking the public for their support for a specific model of government.[43]

Shorten in Parliament in 2016

In 2015, Shorten said that the voting age should be lowered to 16.[44] In February 2016, Shorten called Cory Bernardi a "homophobe".[45] In March 2016, Shorten committed that the party would oppose any effort to extend discrimination law exemptions to allow people who object to same-sex marriage to deny goods and services to same-sex couples.[46]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2000, Shorten married Debbie Beale, daughter of businessman and former Liberal MP Julian Beale.[47] They divorced in 2008.[48] In 2009, Shorten married Chloe Bryce, daughter of Quentin Bryce, who was the Governor-General of Australia at the time.[49][50][51] Shorten and Chloe live in Moonee Ponds with their daughter, Clementine,[52] and Chloe Shorten's two children, Georgette and Rupert, from a previous marriage to architect Roger Parkin.[53] 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".[54]

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.[55]

Shorten was raised Catholic, but converted to Anglicanism before his second marriage – as well as it being his wife's religion, he "had come to disagree with the [Catholic] Church on a number of issues".[56][57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Doran, Matthew; McGhee, Ashlynne (21 August 2017). "Labor refuse to release citizenship documents for MPs facing questions". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  2. ^ "ParlInfo – Biography for Shorten, the Hon. William (Bill) Richard". 5 December 1967. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Mum's family were Irish Catholic". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014.
  4. ^ Rule, Andrew (26 September 2009). "The charm offensive". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  5. ^ Wright, Jessica (15 April 2014). "Bill Shorten farewells mother at private funeral in Melbourne". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  6. ^ Greg Brown, Bill Shorten’s British citizenship: displays classic hypocrisy, Angus Taylor says, The Australian, 21 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Engaging in the Asian Century". Monash University. 22 May 2013.
  8. ^ van Tiggelen, John (July 2012). "Watch This Face: Bill Shorten". The Monthly.
  9. ^ Biography for SHORTEN, the Hon. William (Bill) Richard, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Parliament of Australia. Senators and Members. Bill Shorten. Biography. Retrieved 8 March 2014
  12. ^ "Getup Annual Report 2005-06, p. 16" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  13. ^ Netballers join union for a better shot at fair pay, Sydney Morning Herald.
  14. ^ The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Q&A profile, ABC. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  15. ^ Cavill, Amanda. "Leader profile: Bill Shorten". SBS. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  16. ^ Schubert, Misha (4 February 2006). "I'm in: Shorten declares on safe seat". Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  17. ^ "Shorten wins preselection battle: Lateline". 2006-02-28. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  18. ^ Doherty, Ben (4 May 2006). "Shorten plays more than mere union man". Age. Fairfax.
  19. ^ Coorey, Phillip (6 May 2006). "Voice of the miners is just the union ticket". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Rudd hands out portfolios". ABC. 29 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  21. ^ Van Tiggeen, John, The Monthly, July 2012.
  22. ^ "I urged Gillard to challenge Rudd: Bill Shorten". Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  23. ^ Goodsir, Darren (23 August 2010). "Bill Shorten to lead Labor Party?". 3AW blog. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  24. ^ Simons, Margaret (12 November 2005). "Fitting the Bill". The Age. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  25. ^ Hewett, Jennifer (18 September 2010). "Players assemble on the front line". News Limited. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  26. ^ "Gillard unveils expanded Cabinet". ABC News. Australia. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  27. ^ Murphy, Katharine (26 June 2013). "Labor leadership spill: Julia Gillard v Kevin Rudd – as it happened". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  28. ^ Ireland, Judith (26 June 2013). "Rudd returns as Labor leader, Gillard quits politics". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  29. ^ Kernell, G. (2014). "The 2013 parliamentary election in Australia". Electoral Studies. 34: 357–361. doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2013.12.002.
  30. ^ Tucker, J. (26 September 2013). "Australia's 2013 election: A divided left and a step to the right". The Washington Post.
  31. ^ "Bill Shorten in Ballarat | Q&A | ABC TV". 21 September 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  32. ^ Cullen, Simon (13 September 2013). "Anthony Albanese to run for Labor leadership against Bill Shorten". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  33. ^ Maher, Sid; Perpitch, Nicolas (13 September 2013). "Bill Shorten stands and vows to maintain the carbon rage". The Australian. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  34. ^ Harrison, Dan. "Bill Shorten elected Labor leader". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  35. ^ Griffiths, Emma (13 October 2013). "Bill Shorten elected Labor leader over Anthony Albanese after month-long campaign". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  36. ^ Taylor, Lenore (14 October 2013). "Tanya Plibersek elected to be Bill Shorten's deputy". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  37. ^ Nicholson, Brendan (14 October 2013). "Star of the Left Tanya Plibersek helped Bill Shorten win". The Australian. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  38. ^ William Bowe (2015-12-07). "Newspoll: 53-47 to Coalition – The Poll Bludger". Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  39. ^ Speers, David (2015-12-03). "The honeymoon is over". Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  40. ^ "Honeymoon over for Malcolm Turnbull". Herald Sun. 2015-12-06. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  41. ^ "Is the Turnbull honeymoon over?". Courier Mail. 2015-12-07. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  42. ^ Dunlevy, Sue (21 September 2015). "Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's new cabinet to be sworn in today". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  43. ^ Massola, James (28 July 2017). "Bill Shorten vows to hold vote on republic during first term of a Labor government". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  44. ^ ABC News, 31 October 2015, Bill Shorten calls for voting age to be lowered to 16
  45. ^ Hunter, Fergus (24 February 2016). "'At least I'm not a homophobe': Bill Shorten in tense press conference exchange with Cory Bernardi". Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  46. ^ Karp, Paul (31 March 2016). "Shorten: Labor won't change discrimination laws to please same-sex marriage opponents". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  47. ^ 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 ...
  48. ^ 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 ...
  49. ^ Carbone, Suzanne (11 December 2009). "Shorten fits the Bill as referee for his ex-wife". Age. Fairfax. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  50. ^ "Bill Shorten to wed Chloe Bryce, Governor-General's daughter". Daily Telegraph. News Limited. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ "Baby Clementine wows Labor MP Bill Shorten and wife Chloe Bryce". Herald Sun. News Limited. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  53. ^ "Bill Shorten in love with Quentin Bryce's daughter". Courier Mail. News Limited. 21 September 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  54. ^ "Bill and Chloe Shorten call for end to personal attacks in politics". The Australian. News Limited. 13 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  55. ^ Shorten is best man at Roskam's wedding,; accessed 22 May 2015.
  56. ^ The religious lives of Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, ABC Radio National, 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  57. ^ What kind of Christian is Bill Shorten?, Bible Society Australia, 28 June 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2017.

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
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
Succeeded by
David Bradbury
Preceded by
Chris Evans
Minister for Workplace Relations
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz
Preceded by
Peter Garrett
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