Scott Morrison & Bill Shorten both stepped out on ABC TV

The night Scott Morrison & Bill Shorten both stepped out on ABC TV

Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten, the two men vying to emerge from the polls on 18th May as Australia’s next Prime Minister, each had an ABC outing on Monday night.

First, the PM Scott Morrison sat across from 730 host Leigh Sales for his first election campaign interview on the program.

Their exchange was fiery: on several occasions Morrison implored Sales to let him finish. He was steadfast in avoiding the one question Sales seemed set on him answering.

If this government has been as effective as he says, why then, was Malcolm Turnbull dumped last year? Morrison wouldn’t budge and stuck to his lines that his is the team to be trusted in power.

Later in the evening Opposition leader Bill Shorten subject himself to almost a full hour on Q&A with Tony Jones, taking questions from the audience about the economy, climate, Adani, leadership and more.

His performance has been described as solid: many commented on the fact he seemed more relaxed than on previous occasions.

But it was the last question he answered that has been dubbed the ‘most powerful moment’ of the night, and perhaps even the election campaign.

He was asked what style of leadership he would adopt were he to take the keys to the Lodge.

“What will your leadership culture be? How will your government guide all of us as a community in relation to our culture in being a decent and caring country to live in?” Kathryn Watt asked.

Shorten answered definitively.

“I’m not a lone ranger. I’m not going to be a messiah. Don’t believe in the ‘authoritarian strong man’ that I’ll do this and everyone will follow. I would rather say my leadership style is one of the coach. I want to get the best out of the team.”

He then started talking about his late mother Ann, and how she would ultimately provide the inspiration for his leadership.

“She was the first in our family to ever go to university … she wanted to be a lawyer, but she was the eldest in the family and needed to take the teacher scholarship to look after the rest of the kids. My mum was a brilliant woman. She wasn’t bitter. She worked here [at Monash University] for 35 years. But I know if she had other opportunities she could have done anything. I can’t make it right for my mum. And she wouldn’t want me to. But my point is this, what motivates me, if you really want to know who Bill Shorten is, I can’t make it right for my mum but I can make it right for everyone else.”

It is not unusual for politicians to invoke personal anecdotes but it is rarely delivered with Shorten’s sincerity.  Whether it resonates will be interesting to watch.

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