• Linda Burney strikes a pose as her portrait was unveiled at Parliament House. (AAP)Source: AAP
A painting of the proud Wiradjuri woman takes a permanent place in Canberra’s Parliament House.
NITV Staff Writer

13 Feb 2019 - 1:45 PM  UPDATED 13 Feb 2019 - 1:45 PM

An “inspiration” was how Bill Shorten described the first Aboriginal woman elected to Australia’s House of Representatives.

The Opposition Leader said he saw “a story of hope” when he looked at the new official portrait of Labor MP Linda Burney, which was unveiled at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday morning.

“As a little girl she was taught, in her words, that she was descended from people who are as close to the stone age as possible,” Mr Shorten said.

“The fact that it has taken 119 years to unveil a portrait of an Aboriginal woman as a member of parliament is embarrassing.”

The member for Barton’s portrait, painted by New South Wales artist Jude Rae, was commissioned for Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection in recognition of her election.

It will hang alongside other paintings of significant firsts in Australia’s parliament including the first woman elected, Dame Enid Lyons; and the first Indigenous man elected, Senator Neville Bonner.

Ms Burney said she was “humbled” by the portrait unveiling.

"This is not just about a portrait of me, this is about those who have come before me and those who will come after,” she said.

"Young men and women from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal backgrounds understand what that election means."

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“I was born at a time when the Australian Government knew how many sheep there were, but not how many Aboriginal people. I was 10-years-old before the ‘67 referendum fixed that. The first decade of my life was spent as a non-citizen.”