Thank you all for coming in.
As you are aware the Prime Minister advised me today that I will no longer continue to serve within her ministry.
I fully accept her decision. In supporting Kevin Rudd in this week’s leadership contest I acknowledged that outcome was a distinct possibility.
Taking a stand on principle often has consequences. I was prepared to take those consequences.
I congratulate all those who have been appointed to new ministerial positions. They are good people and I wish them well.
I note the Prime Minister stated in her interview this afternoon that she made the appointments on the basis of merit. I think all who have been appointed are indeed meritorious.
I can indicate that in my brief discussion this morning the Prime Minister advised me that her decision was influenced by the fact that she believed I had gone further than other colleagues in public statements I made in support of Kevin.
Can I take this opportunity to place on the record that I had become extremely disappointed by the unseemly tone of public comments that had been made about Kevin which I felt unfairly belittled his legacy as Prime Minster and someone with impeccable Labor values.
In the absence other intervention I felt compelled to lend defence to a friend and colleague.
I appreciate the Prime Minister’s recognition of my service as a minister. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented people to advance a number of significant reforms.
Some of the more significant reforms included:
In the area of National Security:
- Greater co-ordination of our counterterrorism effort through the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Control Centre.
- While at the same time empowering communities to resist those who would exploit their youths through the countering violent extremism programme.
In the area of Cyber security:
- I developed laws to empower our law enforcement agencies to work with international partners to fight cyber crime in all its forms including most reprehensively the exploitation of children. And I established the Computer Emergency Response Team with my then Department.
In the area of Emergency Management:
- I worked with the States and Territories to establish a national emergency warning system that has sent out over 7 million alerts.
- We are now well on the way to building a location specific capability to be in place by the next bushfire season.
In the area of Civil Justice:
- I am proud that I was able to inject over $154 million into legal assistance for the most vulnerable Australians.
- Reforms in the area of family law have given greater protection to the victims of domestic violence.
- And with the assistance of the Federal Court, reform to civil practice has reduced judicial backlog and sped up the resolution of claims in a number of areas including native title.
- In particular, when I came to office as Attorney-General just four or five native title claims were resolved each year. Now we look like resolving about 75 matters this calendar year. And instead of 30 years we now look like we will break the backlog of claims in about five years.
Political life can have its down moments. Can I give you a tip?
The best antidote to that is to work with those who are helping our homeless. They are truly outstanding human beings.
I was pleased to carry on the work of former ministers which will deliver about 20,000 homes for social housing by the end of this year. With 80,000 being repaired and renovated.
Our homeless programs appear to be showing some encouraging results. Just yesterday I was pleased to read reports that there has been a 25% reduction in those who are sleeping rough in the Sydney CBD.
At an institutional level I was pleased to have had the opportunity to significantly overhaul anti discrimination laws, prohibit the reintroduction of capital punishment and while not entirely without controversy, I think the Labor Government’s Human Rights Framework will ensure that the rights of citizens remain foremost in the mind s of legislators now and into the future.
There is obviously much more that many people can be proud of and I sincerely thank them for their dedicated work.
I always found our public servants to be first class.
And I would like to place on the record my appreciation to my personal staff who are a group of fine young professionals.
And finally I just could not do this job without the support of my family Michelle, Katelyn, Jessica Claudia and son David. They have stood by me for every minute I have been in Parliament – 16 years today.
And finally I can confirm with the support of my wife, it is my intention to remain as the Member for Barton. I look forward to the additional time I will have to represent the interests of my constituents.
Contact: Barton Electorate Office – 02 9553 4111