AT the heart of Bill Shorten’s drive to give every Australian the same chance in life is a strong woman who fought for every one of the few opportunities that came her way: his mother.
The Labor leader was on the verge of tears as he shared a very detailed version of his mother’s life story after News Corp papers accused him of glossing over it.
Ann Shorten had wanted to study law when young, but did a teaching degree instead because it came with a scholarship.
After teaching for years, in her late 40s she went to law school – at some points studying at the same time as Mr Shorten and his twin brother Robert – and eventually taking articles and becoming a barrister.
However, because she was older and outside the establishment, she found it difficult to get briefs in cases.
“I choose to give you that last bit of the battle of her time at the bar, because my mum would want me to say to older women in Australia that just because you’ve got grey hair, just because you didn’t go to a special private school, just because you don’t go to the right clubs, just because you’re not part of some back-slapping boys’ club, doesn’t mean you should give up,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Nowra in NSW.
His mum was the bravest woman he’d ever known, he said.
She died just over five years ago from a heart attack.
“I miss her every day. I sometimes, you know, I get a sense of how she would react to things, because she was such a strong and clever woman,” he said.
“But I’m glad that she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish.”
After talking about his mum’s time as a barrister, Mr Shorten tried his hand at being a barista.
He got behind the coffee machine in Nowra cafe Espresso Warriors to make a flat white amid a pack of cameras and bemused patrons just there for lunch and, in one case, a knitting lesson.
“Leave it to the experts, that’s the tip I got,” he joked as he handed the coffee over.
Around the Nowra Fair shopping centre he shook hands with mostly older patrons, urging them to vote for candidate Fiona Phillips, Labor’s candidate for Gilmore, the seat that takes in Nowra on the NSW south coast.
One woman told Mr Shorten him she was sorry to hear about his mother.
Another older lady put her lips right next to the politician’s ear and said: “Can you push climate change?”
He started telling Vanessa Dill about Labor’s plans to include dental treatment for pensioners on Medicare when she interrupted him: “I’ve got no teeth now.”
Gilmore was held by Liberal Ann Sudmalis with a 0.7 per cent margin but she is retiring after accusing the local party of bullying her during a preselection fight.
The Liberal candidate is former ALP national president Warren Mundine, who was hand-picked by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but the Nationals are also running a candidate, Katrina Hodgkinson, and the dumped Liberal Grant Schultz is standing as an independent.
© AAP 2019