Meet Australia's Next Possible Claire Underwood
OK, fine, she's a fictional character - but House of Cards’ Claire Underwood has started a trend in real-world politics.
They say that behind every great man is a great woman, and now it seems that beside every leading politician is an independently successful, savvy woman. While her husband Frank is charismatic and folksy as he basks in the limelight, it’s Claire who’s the true hero of the series. Frank is brash and occasionally homicidal - but Claire is clever, strategic, ambitious, persistently unflappable and impeccably dressed. She led the Clean Water Initiative, became the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, and **spoiler alert** ended up as the Democratic nominee for Vice President.
And now as Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten fight it out be Australia’s Prime Minister, two strong and inspiring women stand by their sides - Lucy Turnbull and Chloe Shorten. Both have been described as their husbands’ “secret weapon” – but as they appear at campaign stops and are constantly mentioned by their husbands, it seems the secret’s out. The only thing missing is Claire Underwood’s slightly evil undertones.
Australia’s current First Lady Lucy Turnbull must have a Harry Potter-esque time-turner, because there’s honestly no other way she could have got this all done. She’s been a lawyer, a philanthropist, an author, a businesswoman, and a board director.
Lucy’s also not just married to a politician - she’s been one herself. Before Malcolm was ever elected to Parliament, she was Sydney’s first female Lord Mayor. And she’s the descendant of politicians too – her father was Australia’s Attorney-General, and her great-grandfather was Sydney’s first Lord Mayor. At the moment, she’s an ambassador for Our Watch, which tackles family violence.
She’s also an art fan, and has been on the board of the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Biennale.
Lucy and I joined Michael Long and thousands of other Australians for the Long Walk before "Dreamtime at the G" tonight. We all walked as equals, but we know there are significant challenges still facing many Indigenous Australians before we can say we have equality of opportunity for all. Reconciliation is a journey on which we are embarked with love and commitment - working to close the gap on health and education, and backing Indigenous entrepreneurship with our $115m package of support to drive economic empowerment. And next year we will recognise our First Australians in our Constitution. This will acknowledge and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians' enduring relationship with our land for tens of thousands of years. #dreamtimeatheg #longwalk
Her day job at the moment is the chair of the Greater Sydney Commission, which has the big job of planning Sydney’s future. She’s passionate about cities, and says she has always been “interested in spaces and buildings.” The comparisons to Amal Clooney and to Hillary Clinton are justified.
“I have never seen myself as an appendage [of Malcolm], as anyone who knows me will tell you,” she has said. “My roles have sometimes been less visible but we were a very good team.”
To his credit, Malcolm realises he’s got a pretty incredible wife, and the two are inseparable. He told Women’s Weekly: “Over the years, we have grown together. It is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of ‘Lucy and me’ than I do of ‘me’.”
And Lucy is not just an emotional support to Malcolm – she’s also been described as “secret weapon” in his campaigning and fundraising efforts.
The two met when Lucy was 19 and Malcolm was 23. She was working for her lawyer dad, and he was sent as a journalist to profile him. She reckoned he was “very handsome, dashing and clever”
36 years on, they’re Australia’s leading power couple. Together they’re worth almost $200 million, he’s the leader of the country, and apart from everything else, she has kick-ass glasses. They also have two children, Alex and Daisy, two **extremely** cute grandchildren and a third on the way.
Come July 2, Lucy Turnbull might have to hand over the keys to the Lodge and the title of First Lady to Chloe Shorten, who’s married to Labor leader Bill Shorten.
Chloe has a similarly bulging CV – she’s been a journalist at Brisbane’s Sunday Mail and magazines like Cleo. She has worked as a corporate affairs specialist for tech and mining companies.
Chloe describes herself as a “passionate advocate for equality”. She’s particularly interested in preventing family violence, which she describes as “the issue that keeps me awake at night," she says. She acts as an ambassador for the Victorian Government’s Victoria Against Violence campaign.
— chloe shorten (@chloeshorten) June 1, 2015
She also has a volunteer role with the Burnet Institute, which works to prevent the high rates of infant mortality in Papua New Guinea, where Chloe volunteered in the late 1990s.
— chloe shorten (@chloeshorten) March 7, 2016
Chloe is used to the spotlight – her mother, Dame Quentin Bryce, was Governor-General of Australia. That said, she reckons she’s “a little shyer than people might think,’’ she says.
She has said that if Bill becomes Prime Minister, she will continue to do the same kind of work: "Mothering, community work and I would continue to be involved with the organisations that work to improve the lives of women and girls and people with disabilities."
Like Lucy Turnbull, Chloe Shorten is an asset for her husband’s election campaign. Last week, the Labor Party asked for donations by offering “one lucky supporter” the chance to meet Chloe at Bill’s campaign launch.
And last week, Chloe returned to journalism, interviewing her husband Bill in a cute-slash-awkward video about his life and career.
The couple married in 2009 and has a daughter, Clementine, as well as two children from Chloe’s previous marriage.
— chloe shorten (@chloeshorten) March 15, 2016
- Hannah Ryan