Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Coalition MPs who criticised the inexpensive necklace his wife Chloe wore during his budget-in-reply speech should “hang their heads in shame”.
“She may look a million bucks but she’s a good shopper,” Mr Shorten told a press conference on Friday.
The Labor leader’s wife sent government MPs rushing for their phones when she removed the sparkly, crystal-studded jewellery about 30 minutes into her husband’s speech on Thursday night.
Thinking they had just mined political gold, several Coalition politicians reportedly texted journalists about the wardrobe adjustment. They assumed it was an expensive piece and that Ms Shorten had removed it so as not to clash with her husband’s attacks on tax-dodging corporations and millionaires.
But on Friday morning, Bill Shorten’s office said the apparently expensive gold necklace was actually bought by Ms Shorten for just $25 from a chain store at the unremarkable Highpoint shopping centre in the Shortens’ electorate of Maribyrnong.
Afterwards, Mr Shorten himself came out swinging at the “grubby politics”.
“Listen, I think those Liberal politicians who are attacking my wife should hang their head in shame,” he told reporters on Friday.
“You know, I just think that’s grubby politics. My wife, I’m so proud of her. I think some of the Liberals misunderstand the fact that she may look a million bucks, but she’s a good shopper.
“I think the Liberals should move on from talking about what my wife wears and instead focus on the budget. Quite frankly, I think the Liberals are more interested in what my wife wears because put simply, they don’t want to talk about their budget, where millionaires pay less and everyone else pays more.”
While Labor claimed the necklace came from the popular — and unashamedly inexpensive — Lovisa chain store, a company spokesperson told the media the necklace was definitely not one of their products.
It took the investigative skills of ABC journalist Lyndal Curtis to uncover the origin of Ms Shorten’s necklace, which made the MPs’ attempted offensive look even more empty.
Curtis tweeted a picture of an almost identical necklace from accessories supplier Collette with a sale price tag of just $10.20.
Mrs Shorten’s subtle birthday tweet to her husband on Friday morning took further wind out of the Coalition sails.
“happy birthday darling. Sorry my $20 necklace caused such trouble!”, she wrote.
— chloe shorten (@chloeshorten) May 12, 2017
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was circumspect when asked about the controversy on Seven’s Sunrise program on Friday.
“I don’t know. To be honest I’ve seen the pictures of Mrs Shorten there, but I was paying attention to the speech.”