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Transcript of interview with John Faine: ABC Radio Melbourne: 6 July 2018: decision not to contest the next election

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SUBJECT/S: Decision not to contest the next election

JOHN FAINE: Jenny Macklin is the Member for Jagajaga in the Federal Parliament. She’s been Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, she’s been Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Social Security, all sorts of things, and was one of the architects of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Overnight she’s announced that she’s departing the Parliament at the next federal election. Jenny Macklin, good morning to you.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning John.

FAINE: Congratulations. My Enduring image of you Jenny Macklin is when I was sent by the ABC to Parliament House to cover the Kevin Rudd apology to the stolen generation. Watching you personally go out to the cars that were bringing in elderly people from the desert and the coast - elderly Indigenous people -wheeling them in their wheel chairs into the Parliament, helping them to their chairs. You, Therese Rein, and other senior people making them welcome in the Parliament itself. It was an astonishing sight to see.

MACKLIN: It was an amazing day. And really, as I have said recently actually John, it seemed so difficult before the apology was given, and then afterwards, such an enormous joy to so many people. You have to wonder why it hadn’t been done earlier. It was an amazing day and it’s completely imprinted on my brain too. I can tell you I was full of anxiety that day that everything would go well - of course - particularly for the members of the stolen generation. Some of whom were very elderly. But also to try and take what we all could from the importance of saying sorry for all the terrible things that had been done in the past.

FAINE: You’ve been in the Parliament for a very long time. What is it? Twenty…

MACKLIN: Well next year, it will be 23 years. By the time of the election.

FAINE: When you started, there were four women on the Labor Party side in the

House, now there’s 27. That in itself tells us something.


FAINE: Many politicians spend their time in Parliament and then at the end wonder what they achieved. But I don’t think there’s any risk of that with you. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, a lasting legacy - you had the stewardship for years. Is that the most significant thing you did?

MACKLIN: Well it’s certainly one. I decided to put on my Every Australian Counts t-shirt today John, to help me get through the day. A fantastic grass-roots campaign that was run to really convince all of us in Parliament to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme. And although there are difficulties for people who are coming into the scheme, I think if we keep our minds firmly focused on the purpose of the Scheme - which is to make sure that people with disability and their families have every chance to live as strong and independent lives as possible. So it’s got a way to go yet, but I think in the end it will be revolutionary for people with disability.

FAINE: You were first women to be Deputy Leader of the Labor Party. But you were right there at the core of the whole Rudd-Gillard-Rudd affair. Do women do politics - existentially - do women do politics differently?

MACKLIN: Not necessarily, I don’t think John. I think the importance of having women in the Parliament is - we should be a house of representatives, we should represent the whole of the society. And of course, half of the community is women. That’s been my view. Of course, there’s a huge range of different types of women with different points of view. That’s the way it should be. I have to say, one of the things I’ve loved the most about being a Member of Parliament is being a representative of my local community. I went in as a researcher and policy maker, and I feel I’ve come out much more as someone who loves her community.

FAINE: Do you feel you’ve personally made a difference? That you have changed the country?

MACKLIN: You shouldn’t’ ask me that John!

FAINE: Well I have!

MACKLIN: I’ve been able to do some wonderful things, like the National Disability Insurance Scheme - with many, many other people. You can’t make these changes without being part of a team. We delivered the biggest increase to the Age Pension, Disability Pension, ever, in the country’s history.

FAINE: Paid parental leave schemes…

MACKLIN: Paid parental leave, of course, the apology with Kevin Rudd. It was

wonderful to be able to work with Julia Gillard on the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. There are many things.

FAINE: Sure, but I remember John Button saying - I think it was - if you want friends in politics, get a dog. Have you made friends in politics?

MACKLIN: I have actually. That is a statement many of us reflect on, but I’ve been very, very fortunate to make some wonderful, wonderful friends. Today I particularly pay tribute to Wayne Swann. I know from my own family, that there’s nothing worse than unemployment - what it does to families and what it does to communities - and to see what Wayne and Kevin Rudd did to save Australia from mass unemployment. These friendships that are formed in these environments are very deep.

FAINE: Thank you indeed. Congratulations and thank you for your time this morning. Jenny Macklin, retiring as the member for Jagajaga at the next federal election. ENDS MEDIA CONTACT: TIM WATTS 0427 723 623