Federal election: Could Bill Shorten reclaim Labor leadership?

With the next Federal Election likely to be called for early 2022, Yahoo News Australia has answered the most popular questions people are Googling about shadow government services minister Bill Shorten.

How old is Bill Shorten?

Bill Shorten was born on born May 12, 1967, making him 54 years old.

Bill Shorten speaking.
Shadow minister for government services Bill Shorten has led Labor to two consecutive election defeats. There are whispers he wants his old job back for a third attempt in the next election. Source: Getty Images.

How tall is Bill Shorten?


What is Bill Shorten’s family background?

Bill Shorten's mother Ann, originally from Ballarat, is descended from Irishmen who arrived during the Victorian gold rush.

Mr Shorten's father William was a marine engineer born in Tyneside, England, who worked as a manager at the Duke and Orr Dry Docks on Melbourne's Yarra River after moving to Australia.

He has a twin brother, Robert.

Where did Bill Shorten grow up?

Mr Shorten was born in Melbourne, growing up in Hughesdale southeast of the city.

He attended St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Malvern East and then Xavier College, Kew.

Mr Shorten was chosen for the state debating team in 1984 and was the state under-15 fencing champion in the sabre division.

Who is Bill Shorten’s wife?

Mr Shorten’s first wife Debbie Beale is the daughter of former Liberal member of parliament Julian Beale.

They divorced in 2008.

Mr Shorten is married to Chloe Shorten (nee Bryce), the daughter of former Australian governor general Dame Quentin Bryce.

Chloe Shorten's first marriage was to Brisbane architect Roger Parkin to which she has two children, Rupert and Georgette.

They were divorced in 2009.

Mr Shorten met Chloe in 2007 and they were married in November 2009, giving birth to their daughter Clementine in January 2010.

Where did Bill Shorten work before entering politics?

Mr Shorten graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1989 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1992.

He was active in student politics, both in the university's ALP Club and in Young Labor.

He briefly worked in a butcher's shop during his first years at university and was also a private in the Australian Army Reserve from 1985 to 1986.

After graduation, Mr Shorten worked as a lawyer for Maurice Blackburn Cashman.

He began his union career in 1994 as a trainee organiser under the ACTU's Organising Works program at the Australian Workers' Union (AWU), and in 1998 was elected Victorian state secretary.

Bill Shorten has a Hawkes Beer while looking at a picture of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Like former prime minister Bob Hawke, Bill Shorten got his start in trade unions before entering politics. Source: Getty Images.

He went on to be elected 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.

From December 2005 until May 2008 he served as the Victorian Labor state president and as a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive.

He was also board member of GetUp.org.au, the Australian Cricketers' Association and was the interim chief executive of the Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA).

He was a member of the Labor party's national executive and administrative committee of the Victorian branch until 2011, while also director of the Superannuation Trust of Australia (now Australian Super) and the Victorian Funds Management Corporation.

What is Bill Shorten’s religion?

Mr Shorten was raised Catholic, but converted to Anglicanism before his second marriage, the same religion as his new wife.

His mother Ann’s two younger sisters were nuns in the Catholic Church.

While also wishing to obtain a divorce and re-marry, Mr Shorten stated his conversion was also because he “had come to disagree with the Church on a number of issues: stem-cell research, the right of women to control their own bodies, priestly marriage, and, more recently, marriage equality.”

When did Bill Shorten enter politics?

Mr Shorten stood for Labor preselection for the Division of Maribyrnong before the 1996 federal election.

He was defeated by Bob Sercombe, who went on to retain the seat for Labor.

He won preselection for the safe Labor seat of Melton at the 1999 state election but subsequently resigned as a candidate in order to become state secretary of the AWU.

In 2005, Shorten announced that he would again seek preselection for the Division of Maribyrnong, and in 2006 Sercombe announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy for re-selection.

During the Beaconsfield Mine collapse, Shorten was still National Secretary of the AWU and his role as a negotiator and commentator during the rescue operation significantly raised his profile ahead of the 2007 election, where he was elected.

What were Bill Shorten's previous political roles?

At the 2007 federal election, Mr Shorten was appointed parliamentary secretary for disabilities and children's services, where he was a key player in the adoption of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

He was later identified as one of the factional leaders involved in the replacement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister with Julia Gillard in the 2010 leadership challenge.

Gillard Government

Following the 2010 federal election, Mr Shorten was promoted to minister for financial services and superannuation and in 2011, he was appointed minister for workplace relations.

Despite being a part of Rudd’s first downfall as leader, Mr Shorten backed Mr Rudd’s challenge to Ms Gillard’s leadership in June 2013.

Lucky for Mr Shorten, Rudd won back the top job as Mr Shorten said he would resign his position from cabinet should Ms Gillard win the ballot.

Rudd rewarded Mr Shorten for his renewed loyalty and appointed him minister for education.

Leader of the Opposition

Following the defeat of the Labor government at the 2013 federal election, Kevin Rudd stood down as leader and Shorten was elected despite a challenge from factional rival Anthony Albanese .

Despite Labor gaining 14 seats in the 2016 election under Mr Shorten, the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull hung on to form government with a one seat majority.

Mr Shorten remained Labor leader despite the election loss, and following a renewed push to form government, Labor again lost to the Coalition in the 2019 election that many predicted would be a Labor whitewash.

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese (R) speaks with the Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten.
Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese have long been rivals within their own party. Source: Getty Images.

He stepped down as party leader following the loss, making way for Mr Albanese to win the role unopposed.

Mr Shorten has been shadow minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and for government services since stepping down as leader.

What is Bill Shorten's relationship with Anthony Albanese?

As staunch members of the right and left wing factions of the party respectively, Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese have long been rivals within the Labor ranks.

When Labor lost what was thought to be an unlosable election, Mr Shorten actively campaigned against his expected replacement Mr Albanese, instead encouraging his colleagues to choose his deputy Tanya Plibersek for the leadership.

The relative instability of federal political leadership over recent years and whispers of discontent with Mr Albanese’s captaincy has magnified whispers that Mr Shorten is waiting for an opportunity to take down Mr Albanese and claim his old job back in the lead up to the next election.

What are some of the scandals Bill Shorten has faced?

Allegations of a historical rape claim against Mr Shorten from the 1980s surfaced in 2014 when word that a senior Labor figure was under investigation by Victorian police.

Mr Shorten publicly identified himself as the subject of the investigation, revealing that police had told him there was no case to be answered and no charges to be laid.

The woman's allegation were made on Facebook, where it was reported that she had written on the social networking site that Mr Shorten had raped her at a Young Labor camp in 1986 when she was 16 years old.

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