Bill Shorten attacks newspaper over story about his mother

“My mum was a brilliant woman. She wasn’t bitter,” he said. “But I also know that if she had had other opportunities, she could have done anything.”

The front-page newspaper report, with the headline “mother of invention” and accompanied by two pages of coverage and an editorial, said Mr Shorten had omitted the fact that his mother had become a lawyer later in life.

“Far from being thwarted, she achieved her Australian dream,” The Daily Telegraph said in its editorial.

Mr Shorten has clashed with The Daily Telegraph and its owner, News Corp, several times in the past and declined to meet the company’s executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, ahead of the election.

In the first weeks of the election campaign, Mr Shorten blasted the “climate change deniers” at News Corp who criticised action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and and backed their “ally” in Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said on Wednesday morning that the News Corp newspapers were trying to help the government.

“This is what they do – they go to any length to prop up the Liberals, to prop up a failing government which has spent six years rotating through three Prime Ministers, which has doubled debt in this country, which has presided over slowing growth and stagnant wages,” Mr Chalmers told ABC TV.

In his Facebook post, Mr Shorten told the story of his mother’s decision to become a lawyer decades after she had wanted to do so.

“My Mum passed away five years ago last month, but she’s still my biggest inspiration,” 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.

“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. That’s why I’m asking to be your Prime Minister.”

David Crowe is Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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