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'He was going to run the world': How a young Bill Shorten went from running elections at his elite private school to skipping lessons and just scraping through at uni - but he always had his eye on a bigger prize

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 13/05/2019 Wayne Flower and Dan Peters

Chloe Shorten holding a sign: Before she became known as Chloe Shorten (pictured, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten), the 47-year-old was named Clothilde Bryce © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Before she became known as Chloe Shorten (pictured, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten), the 47-year-old was named Clothilde Bryce To most, they're Bill and Chloe. But Mr and Mrs Shorten have been keeping the likely soon-to-be First Lady's real name quiet for some time.

Because before she became known as Chloe Shorten, the 47-year-old was named Clothilde Bryce. 

The unusual name is pronounced as klaw-teeld or klo-teeld and means 'famous in battle'.

The unusual name stems from Saint Clotilde, the wife of King Clovis, who ruled over the Franks between circa 509-511.

Fittingly, Mrs Shorten is married to royalty of sorts with her husband tipped to become the next prime minister at the May 18 Federal Election, according to the latest polls.

And Mr Shorten has a hidden side too, with the Opposition Leader's school mates revealing he often used to joke about 'running the world'.  

a close up of a man: Bill Shorten as a university student at Monash. He graduated with a double Bachelor in Arts and Laws in 1992 and had a brief stint working for a law firm © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Bill Shorten as a university student at Monash. He graduated with a double Bachelor in Arts and Laws in 1992 and had a brief stint working for a law firm

While the banter was considered tongue-in-cheek at Melbourne's exclusive Xavier College, those that knew young Bill best felt he probably believed it. 

Even as a student, Shorten was driven by an unwavering belief in his own destiny.

Former classmates speak of a self-assured young man who, later at Monash University, would skip lessons, borrow notes and just scrape through classes. 

All the while, Bill was thinking of the bigger picture, constantly 'ringing around and meeting people' in his quest for future political greatness. 

He had a huge 'work ethic' and arguably an ego to match.    

With Shorten on the cusp of becoming the nation's next prime minister, Australians are keen to know more about what makes him tick, where he came from and what shaped his beliefs. 

One ex 'Xavier boy', who went onto mix with those in Shorten's circles, told Daily Mail Australia the favourite to win the election was among a 'golden circle' of mates with aspirations of glory. 

'They'd joke about that they were going to run the world - although everyone thought Bill probably meant it,' he said.

Xavier is considered one 'the best-connected school in Melbourne', with its notable alumni include, two state governors, two deputy prime ministers, one state premier, two deputy premiers and numerous Supreme Court justices. 

Shorten, who makes much of his working-class roots, says his parents were forced to scrimp and save to allow him to attend the exclusive school, which is just 6km from Melbourne's CBD in leafy Kew.

Bill Snr worked as a manager on Melbourne docks while his mother Ann worked as a teacher - before becoming a barrister later in life.

In arguably the key moment of this year's election, Shorten was controversially accused by Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph of deliberately omitting his mother's admission to the Bar during his Q&A appearance on the ABC to suit his political narrative. 

However, rather than leading to the public questioning his character, the attack only seems to have garnered sympathy for him and potentially boosted his approval rating. 

a person wearing a costume: Bill Shorten was born to an academic mother and union official father, and sent to a private Jesuit Catholic school in Melbourne. He is pictured at Xavier College where he was in the soccer team

Bill Shorten was born to an academic mother and union official father, and sent to a private Jesuit Catholic school in Melbourne. He is pictured at Xavier College where he was in the soccer team
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

 At Xavier, Shorten did the numbers for house elections and by university was already well consumed by the political game.

A friend at that time was quoted in The Monthly declaring his mates were fascinated about Shorten's worth ethic.

'It was his ability to do it around the clock. When we were all reeling around hungover after some big night, he'd be hard at it, ringing around, meeting people...Bill had a shocking disregard for his classes, because he was focused on this quest for political aspiration...He just used to borrow our notes and scrape through.'

It was reported that Monash University student magazine Lot's Wife carried a regular 'dirt column' including a 'Hack's Top Thirty' hits dedicated to the political players on campus.

At number three on 1987 was Carly Simon's You're So Vain, (dedicated to Bill Shorten.)

a person wearing a suit and tie: Bill Shorten (L) and his wife Chloe Byrce embrace after the funeral of Shorten's mother, Dr Ann Shorten at Xavier College Chapel in Melbourne in 2014. Shorten defended his mother's honour after a newspaper took a swipe at him about comments he made about her © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Bill Shorten (L) and his wife Chloe Byrce embrace after the funeral of Shorten's mother, Dr Ann Shorten at Xavier College Chapel in Melbourne in 2014. Shorten defended his mother's honour after a newspaper took a swipe at him about comments he made about her

Shorten would knock about with mates Luke Donnellan - now a Labor state minister in Victoria - and Xavier old boy and head of the hardline free-market Institute of Public Affairs, John Roskam.

In an interview with Wendy Harmer, Shorten spoke about his childhood in Murrumbeena, in Melbourne's southeast, and his Jesuit education.

'It was a daggy suburb in Melbourne,' he said. 'My dad was a seafarer. He came ashore when my twin brother and I were born. They lived in a flat in Oakleigh on Dandenong Road, they bought an old Californian bungalow which had been previously used as a sort of boarding ... It wasn't too rich and it wasn't too poor. It was nice.'

a man wearing a suit and tie: John Roskam © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited John Roskam Luke Donnellan wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Luke Donnellan

Alongside a group of university friends Shorten helped form a Young Labor group called Network with the party's Right faction.

After graduating with a double Bachelor in Arts and Laws in 1992, Shorten had a brief stint working in a law firm but soon found himself drawn back to the unions.

By 1998 he was the Australian Workers' Union Victorian state secretary, and just three years later he earned the title of the union's national secretary.

The Beaconsfield mine disaster in 2006 boosted his public profile, and within a year his political experience saw him nominated as Labor Member for Maribyrnong.

Then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd shot him straight to the outer ministry, and by 2010 he was promoted again to the Cabinet as Minister for Financial Services.

In 2017, while still PM, Malcom Turnbull accused Shorten and his Labor colleagues of having 'never done a day's work in their lives'.

'There has never been a more sycophantic leader of the Labor Party, than this one and he comes here and poses as a tribune of the people,' he said.

Mr Turnbull asserted that he was 'old enough to remember' when the Labor Party's benches were filled with union officials 'who had actually worked.'

'Nowadays, look at the serried ranks of apparatchiks and political hacks. That is totally out of touch with the men and women they claim to represent,' he added.

Bill Shorten et al. posing for the camera: Bill Shorten meets students at St Joseph's Catholic College in Gosford today on New South Wales' central coast. He and his old school mates used to joke that they would run the world one day © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Bill Shorten meets students at St Joseph's Catholic College in Gosford today on New South Wales' central coast. He and his old school mates used to joke that they would run the world one day Bill Shorten talking on a cell phone: In 2006, Bill Shorten was president of the Australian Workers Union. He is pictured here in Beaconsfield where miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell were trapped. Shorten became a household name during the drama © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited In 2006, Bill Shorten was president of the Australian Workers Union. He is pictured here in Beaconsfield where miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell were trapped. Shorten became a household name during the drama

Mr Shorten lives in a reasonably modest home in Moonee Ponds, just north of Melbourne's city, with his second wife Chloe and four children - three from Chloe's previous marriage.

His wife Chloe is the daughter of Michael and former-Governor General Quentin Bryce, who was the first woman to hold the position and also spent five years as Governor of Queensland prior.

He married Chloe just one year after splitting from his first wife Debbie Beale, who was the daughter of former federal MP Julian Beale.

Daily Mail Australia approached Ms Beale for comment last week, but she could not be contacted. 

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