Celebrity Families

Who is Bill Shorten's mother Ann Shorten and why is everyone talking about her?

The Labor leader's mother was the subject of a controversial newspaper report.

By Alex Lilly
As Election Day draws closer, Australians may have a new prime minister this time next month in the form of Labor leader, Bill Shorten.
But in a raw and emotional moment during a press conference on Wednesday, the opposition leader opened up about his late mother after a newspaper report claimed that he had used her experience during her short career as a lawyer to help explain his interest in politics.
"I miss her every day but I'm glad she wasn't here today to read that rubbish. Just rubbish," Shorten told the press.
"My mum is the smartest woman I've ever known. She's brilliant and that's what drives me," Shorten said in the press conference.
The emotional words even prompted the trending Twitter hashtag #MyMum where people shared their own personal stories honouring their mothers in the week leading up to Mother's Day.
But who exactly was the woman who raised who could be our next prime minister? Here's what we know.
Bill Shorten has described his mother as "strong and clever." (Image: AAP)
Born Ann McGrath, the late Ann Shorten came from humble beginnings as the daughter of a Ballarat-born printer and union leader.
Unlike many other women of her generation, Ann focused on her education and later her career before she went down the path of marriage and children in her thirties.
Ann met her future husband William Robert Shorten on a cruise to Japan in late 1965 and by 1967, she had given birth to her twin sons Bill and Robert.
WATCH: Chloe Shorten interviews Bill Shorten. Post continues...
Described as "strong and clever" by her son, Ann was always at the top of her class and at the age of 17, knew she wanted to be a lawyer. However, she was forced to take a teacher's scholarship because she could not afford to go to university.
Ann attended Melbourne's Monash University, the first person in her family to do so, and worked there as a teacher for 35 years and raised her sons. Aside from her teaching scholarship after matriculation, she also showed her academic prowess when she received an arts and an education diploma, and then a doctorate from Melbourne University.
By the time Ann had graduated in 1985, her sons Bill and Robert had just started their first year at Monash as well, but her dreams of being a lawyer never died.
Bill Shorten assists in carrying his mother's casket at her funeral in 2014. (Image: AAP)
"At 50, she backed herself. At 53, going to the bar, she got a barrister – that's the technical term, the apprenticeship. She did her best. She went down and did some Magistrates Court work," Bill Shorten revealed about his mother.
"But she discovered in her mid-50s that sometimes, you're just too old, and you shouldn't be too old, but she discovered the discrimination against older women. And so, while she kept her name on the bar roll for a number of years, she came back and she did other things. Do you know that my mum wrote the book on education and law in Australia? Brilliant. She's brilliant."
Unfortunately, Ann only worked six years in the career of her dream and in that time received approximately nine briefs before her death in 2014.
Bill pictured here with his mum and twin brother, Robert. (Image: Twitter)
It's clear the Labor leader maintained a close relationship with his mother until her passing but it's clear she has shaped his policies and is playing a significant role in this election.
"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," he posted on his Twitter account.
"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."

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