'They Got What They Wanted': Shorten Lays Blame Over Election Defeat

'Fear' and 'lies' were the cause of Labor's shock election loss, former leader Bill Shorten claimed.

Shorten, in his first substantial public comments since his election night concession speech, pointed the finger at big business for Labor's disappointing result on May 18.

"We were up against corporate leviathans, spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling lies, spreading fear," Shorten said at a Labor party room meeting in Canberra on Thursday, where new leader Anthony Albanese officially took the mantle as the new opposition leader.

"Powerful vested interests campaigned against us. Through sections of the media itself, and they got what they wanted."

Bill Shorten
Shorten on election night. Photo: Getty Images.

Shorten regularly criticised the News Corp media empire through the campaign, as its newspapers ran front-page stories critical of Labor and its policies.

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The most notable example was when the Daily Telegraph published a story about Shorten's late mother, claiming he had omitted key details of her education and career when answering a question on the ABC's Q&A program.

“Who do these people at News Corp think they are?” he said, in a press conference in Nowra, where he fought back tears.

In a written statement, he called out the "political attack" as a "new low".

Shorten at Labor's first party room meeting since the election loss. Photo: AAP

On Thursday, Shorten -- who immediately stepped down as Labor leader on election night, having led his party to two straight defeats -- called for his party to remain united. Despite his election disappointment, Shorten will remain as a frontbencher and shadow minister in Albanese's team.

"Neither of these challenges disappeared on election night. They're still out there for us to face. It is important we face them with courage and honesty, with principle, and unity," he said.

Albanese at the meeting on Thursday, alongside Penny Wong and other senior members. Photo: AAP

"For nearly six years as leader, in this room, in this place, wherever I went in Australia, I have been privileged to have all of your encouragement, your generosity, your decency, and your support. I am deeply grateful for that."

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Giving his first speech as leader, Albanese admitted he thought on election night "we would be claiming victory at some stage during that evening". He spoke of the sadness of losing but said his team would be committed to pushing their agenda for change.

"We are disappointed but we're certainly not despairing. We are determined to do better," Albanese said.

"I think Australia is already a great country. Our task is to ensure that there's an even better Australia that awaits is achieved with us in government after the next election."