The Hon. Jenny Macklin
Member for Jagajaga (Vic.)
Throughout her twenty-three years in Parliament, Jenny Macklin dedicated herself to achieving social justice. She was, in the words of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, ‘a special combination of an enormous heart and huge brain’ who drove ‘compassionate, caring and highly effective reforms’.
With extensive policy experience, on entering the House of Representatives Macklin was immediately appointed to the shadow ministry. She remained on the frontbench, including a period as the first female deputy leader of the Labor Party, until announcing her retirement.
Macklin served as Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in the Rudd and Gillard governments, playing a central role in the national apology to the Stolen Generations and in establishing the Closing the Gap program to address Indigenous disadvantage. She championed the apology to Australians raised in institutional care and Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, regarding both as ‘significant steps in the pursuit of justice for children so badly abused’.
Later adding Disability Reform to her ministerial responsibilities, Macklin was instrumental in the design and delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which she considered ‘the biggest social reform of our generation’. She oversaw the largest single increase in the aged pension and the introduction of Australia’s first national paid parental leave scheme.
Believing governments have a duty to tackle inequality ‘wherever it is found’, Macklin left Parliament saying, ‘I came to this place knowing that government matters, but I leave here more sure of that than ever’.