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Statement on Shadow Ministry

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It is a great privilege to be appointed as Federal Labor’s Shadow Minister for Families and Payments and Shadow Minister for Disability Reform. I’m honoured to serve our movement in these important portfolios and to support two strong leaders in Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek.

Labor has much to be proud of, and much to protect. We introduced Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme - one that is fair and affordable. We boosted the pension, increased family payments for teenagers and delivered the Schoolkids Bonus. We built DisabilityCare, Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I’ll continue to work every day to hold the new government to account and make sure Australians can keep benefitting from the big reforms Labor delivered in office.

There is always more work to be done to deliver the policies that help lift Australians out of poverty. I look forward to developing those policies with those in our country who want to see opportunity extended to those who need our support.

I am particularly proud of the work that we have done in Indigenous Affairs. In the six years that I have been Minister we have achieved a lot. We apologised to the Stolen Generations. We introduced the Closing the Gap framework - the first comprehensive framework for tackling Indigenous disadvantage - and we invested record amounts to make it work.

Under Labor, the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people has begun to close. More Aboriginal children now have access to preschool, communities are tackling alcohol abuse and families are living in safer homes.

I congratulate Shayne Neumann for his appointment to the Shadow Cabinet in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio. I know Shayne has a strong interest in this area and was a great support to me during my time as Minister.

I want to thank all those who gave me their support during my time in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio - particularly the Aboriginal community leaders who stood with our government to make the difficult changes that were needed to reverse decades of underinvestment and neglect.

I pay special tribute to the courageous Aboriginal women I have had the honour of meeting in communities across Australia. Many of these women were given a voice for the first time in their lives - and they used it to change their communities for the better. We can’t allow that to disappear.

There is much still to do if we are to end Indigenous disadvantage in Australia. I have full confidence that Shayne will hold the Government to account over the next three years to ensure the gap keeps closing.


18 OCTOBER 2013

Media contact: Gerard Richardson 0433 912 347