Bill shortens budget 2016 reply speech mocked over beaconsfield mine reference

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HE may have offered $71 billion in Budget savings in his speech last night, but it’s a comment harking back to his role in a mining disaster that raised eyebrows.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been mocked on social media after invoking the Beaconsfield mining disaster during his Budget reply speech.

Mr Shorten, who was the then-national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, last night spoke about Australia being a nation of courage, community and compassion.

But it was what he said next which raised some eyebrows on Twitter.

This is the Australia I witnessed at Beaconsfield, a decade ago, the Opposition leader said.

At Black Saturday, and through the Brisbane floods. It is the Australia Ive had the privilege of representing my entire working life standing up for people, every day.

An Australia enlarged by all who call it home. Striving for the best, but caring for each other. An Australia of common effort and shared reward.

Mr Shorten was regarded as the human face of the 2006 mining disaster and was soon propelled into the national spotlight.

He soon became the spokesman for the recovery effort and was widely praised at the time for his passionate performance.

While Mr Shortens Budget speech earned a round of applause by those in Parliament, others were questioning why Mr Shorten chose to reference Beaconsfield in it.

Bill Shorten references Beaconsfield mining disaster. "Where's the helicopter" heckles liberal mp

Did Shorten really mention Beaconsfield?

Just audible jeers as Shorten mentions Beaconsfield #BudgetReply

Shorten plays the Beaconsfield card...#budgetr

However, others applauded the reference, and saw no issue with Mr Shortens Beaconsfield mention, given the recent 10-year anniversary of the disaster.

My dad hasn't paid attention to Shorten as OL but he remembers him as "that guy from the Beaconsfield collapse"

Channel 7 had more people at Beaconsfield than the Howard Govt did, and yet the Libs booed Shorten during #BudgetReply

Smart of Shorten to nod back to Beaconsfield: the last time he looked like a leader. #BudgetReply

Others pointed out at least he was there at all when the Liberal Howard Government wasnt.

#LNP mocked Shorten for bringing up Beaconsfield- but not one Howard Gov. Minister lent a hand #BudgetReply #auspol pic.twitter.com/jcWAX59pHp

Libs booing Shorten mentioning Beaconsfield, wow you guys are cold #BudgetReply

The Beaconsfield mining disaster made global headlines and propelled rescued miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell into the national psyche.

While the disaster wasnt the worst on our nations record, Beaconsfield is best remembered for its tale of survival, determination, and Aussie spirit, which captivated people across the nation and overseas.

When a 2.2-magnitude earth tremor shook the ground on April 25, 2006, 17 miners were down the shaft.

Fourteen men escaped immediately, but Larry Knight, 44, who was at the controls of a cherry picker-like machine was killed in the rock fall.

Webb and Russell were in a basket at the end of a telescopic arm, attaching wire mesh to tunnel walls about 1km underground, trapped by 800 tonnes of rock, while no one had a clue if they were alive.

Excavations first found Mr Knights body and then, five days after the rock fall, workers heard the cries of the survivors.

The two men were finally rescued on May 9 in a painstaking process which took two weeks.

Mr Shorten was one of the many people who flocked to the mine site awaiting progress of the rescue effort.

Speaking about the disaster last week, Mr Shorten told AAP: This disaster gave Australians a glimpse of the nation that people dont think exists anymore.

I got to see brave people, determined people, everyday people never give up, and I was privileged to play a small role on this remarkable story.