Today I’ll be announcing that I do not intend to nominate as a Labor Party candidate for the next Federal Election.
It’s been a privilege to serve our local community in the national Parliament for 22½ years and an even greater responsibility to serve as Treasurer for six years and Deputy Prime Minister for three. I want to thank the voters of Lilley and Australia for giving me that privilege.
I will be working locally as hard as ever in Lilley, right up until the next election.
I love my job as a local MP, but time stops for no one, including former Treasurers.
The inescapable fact is I’m approaching a stage in life where it’s simply not possible to be 100 per cent committed as a local MP and meet other important obligations – making time for our newest arrival, my first grandchild, pursuing my passions, especially maintaining the fight against inequality, and keeping fit and healthy.
The interests of the electors of Lilley of course remain very dear to my heart, and are absolutely central to all I have achieved in public life.
So I want to retire in a way that gives the new Labor candidate the very best chance of success.
Our area is changing rapidly and being repopulated with young families. It’s therefore time to hand the baton to a fresh, energetic, young candidate who embodies the changing nature of the electorate.
I think it would be fitting if the party were to select on this occasion, a young woman with the energy and smarts to represent Lilley forcefully and successfully.
Locally, I’ve helped deliver significant upgrades across more than 40 schools, the extension of the Boondall Wetlands, the preservation of Eventide, the Gateway Upgrade North, significant investments in Prince Charles Hospital, and many more.
As Treasurer, I delivered six Budgets, two stimulus packages, and with my colleagues, significant social and economic reforms in carbon pricing, parental leave, disability and education funding, along with the most significant increase in the Age Pension in its history.
But of all my achievements, I’m most proud of the work I did with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to avoid recession during the Global Financial Crisis, saving our people from the economic devastation and social dislocation that ravaged so many other world economies.
The social and economic destruction that comes from prolonged and high unemployment and underemployment is what the Labor Party was formed to fight against. It must remain Labor’s prime motivation into the future.
Politics isn’t just something politicians or Members of Parliament do. I was in politics as an ordinary citizen long before I entered the Parliament, and I will continue to serve the country long after I leave it.
That’s why I’m going to keep being an activist on the issue of inequality.
I intend to be involved with organisations inside and outside the labour movement, both nationally and globally, to argue for new ways of creating jobs and preventing the dangerous concentration of wealth and political power.
The Australian political genius has always been to avoid the inequalities and divisions that have poisoned societies and endangered democracies elsewhere in the world. I’ll be giving my all now as a private citizen to ensure Australia continues to avoid this fate.
I want to thank all the hard‑working branch members, electorate office staff and ministerial staff for their support and loyalty.
I particularly want to thank my family, especially my partner Kim who has kept my feet on the ground and shared the local representation duties while I was away. And I want to thank my children who have kept me young and who have been incredibly generous in accepting the dark side of political life, with its long hours and long absences. I couldn’t have been effective without their love and support.
I have been guided throughout my time in the Parliament by the wisdom and memory of the great Mick Young. This shearer‑turned‑politician shaped my view of what Australia should strive to be, and I hope with all my heart that my time in the Parliament has been true to the rock-solid Labor values that Mick taught me to respect. Those values will continue to guide me through the rest of my career.
I intend to keep working hard locally, representing all of my constituents right up to election day, when I look forward to seeing Bill Shorten become the next Prime Minister of Australia.