Mr Shorten said his mother’s sacrifice had inspired in him a passion for the principle of equality of opportunity for all.
The Daily Telegraph felt it was “bizarre” that Mr Shorten had not mentioned in the program that his mother had in her late 50s gone back to university and qualified as a barrister and practised for several years.
In fact, this is not a case of “gotcha”. Mr Shorten has never tried to conceal his mother’s later career and, indeed, has often mentioned it, most recently the day before at the public ALP campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday.
The Daily Telegraph’s over-the-top treatment of this non-story will only confirm the views of those, such as former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who have accused the Murdoch press of running an ideologically motivated campaign against the ALP.
It must be pointed out, however, that the Murdoch-owned paper in Melbourne, to its credit, chose not to publish The Daily Telegraph’s story and its columnist Andrew Bolt, no friend of the ALP, expressed sympathy with Mr Shorten.
While the Telegraph may have thought it was launching a precision strike, it has, in fact, shot itself in the foot.
In a plastic election campaign, the gratuitous personal insult has given Mr Shorten a chance to show his human side. It will also remind many of the Liberal Party’s failure to promote women in its own ranks and the ALP’s signature promise of a boost in childcare funding.
Yet putting to one side the question of whether it is ever fair game to launch an attack on a politician about his dead mother, the Telegraph has completely misunderstood how most women and young people in Australia will perceive Ann Shorten’s story.
The Daily Telegraph seems to think that the fact that Ann Shorten eventually achieved her dream in later life proves everything was all right in the end and women have nothing to complain about.
Yet most Australian women, who either face the same dilemma or have seen it frustrate the careers of their mothers or their grandmothers, will see Ann Shorten’s story as proof of how hard it is to fight against the odds.