Labor leader Bill Shorten's voice shook and his eyes welled with tears in Nowra on Wednesday.
Provoked by a Daily Telegraph story which sought to discredit Mr Shorten's memory of his late mum, Mr Shorten set the record straight.
"I can hear my mum now saying, 'Don't worry about that rubbish,'" Mr Shorten said.
"But she might tell whoever is pulling down a six-figure sum at the Daily Telegraph - 'Look it up. Look it up.'"
On Q&A on Monday, Mr Shorten spoke about the sacrifices his mother made while raising children - that she pursued teaching rather than her dream of law. The Telegraph's front page on Tuesday, headlined "mother of invention", claimed Mr Shorten had omitted a key fact, that his mum studied law later in life, a fact which he has talked about publicly before.
"What I did on Monday night is I explained who I am, what drives me," Mr Shorten said.
"My mum is the smartest woman I know, and it never occurred to me that women are not the equal to men, that is why I believe in the equal treatment of women."
To local issues, Mr Shorten said Gilmore constituents would be more likely to vote for Labor now than when he last visited Gilmore.
"The difference is, the sitting Liberal member's gone, and haven't the Liberal Party down here been divided in Gilmore," he said.
"They brought a ring-in from Roseville, they're split three different ways, you've got poor old Grant Schultz who was their man, you've got the Nats dipping their bib in.
"Everyone in Australia knows where Gilmore is now, it just seems to have a dysfunctional Liberal National family here."
Mr Shorten had visited Grand Pacific Health in Nowra to announce $250 million from Labor's Better Hospitals Fund would be channelled into measures to reduce surgery waiting list times.
"It will help people like the lovely lady I met, Colleen, who had to wait a year for knee surgery," he said.
"We talked about the pain, the extra prescriptions you have to pay for, the mental challenges of waiting a year. Illness gets cured by treatment, it doesn't get cured by waiting.
"Why is it that Colleen waits a year to get surgery and yet you have millionaires who don't pay any tax?
"We need better hospitals and shorter waiting lists rather than richer millionaires who are avoiding tax loopholes."