How A US Diplomatic Cable Described Bill Shorten's Personality

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Bill Shorten was often described as a future Labor leader while the party was in power. Realistically, an election loss was always going to stand between him and that end.

He now looks closer than ever before.

Shorten yesterday confirmed he would stand for the top job, left vacant by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after his loss at the recent Federal Election. His only competition is former deputy PM Anthony Albanese.

The former union boss, from the Victorian right faction of the party, played a key role in the dumping of both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. This lead to him being dubbed a “king maker.”

A 2009 United States diplomatic cable, sent from the country’s consulate in Melbourne and published by WikiLeaks, sheds considerable light on his persona.

The last line is particularly telling:

Shorten, who is somewhat rumpled in appearance, prefers to get down to business quickly in meetings.

He is a nimble conversationalist who understands nuance. In addition to being cautious, considered and thoughtful, he is able to skillfully steer away from topics he prefers to avoid.

Recently separated from his former wife Debbie Beale, Shorten is reportedly in a relationship with Governor General Quentin Bryce’s daughter, Chloe.

He admitted that he is still getting his feet wet in Parliament and that things there are “more complicated than he thought.”

Despite his lukewarm relationship with Prime Minister Rudd (he sided with Kim Beazley in the 2006 ALP leadership ballot), Shorten struck us as highly ambitious but willing to wait — at least for a while — for his moment in the sun.

Read the full cable here.

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