After 23 years in federal politics, Labor MP Jenny Macklin is retiring

After 23 years in federal politics, Labor MP Jenny Macklin is retiring
Labor MP, Jenny Macklin. Photo by Australian Human Rights Commission via Wikimedia Commons

Jenny Macklin, an old guard Labor frontbencher, has announced her retirement after being the longest serving female in the House of Representatives.

Ms Macklin served as deputy to Simon Crean, Kim Beazley and Mark Latham as well as holding the important Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Families portfolios in both Rudd and Gillard governments.

The member for Jagajaga, Melbourne said in her statement announcing her retirement that it was time for a passing of the torch to a younger generation of politicians.

She said “As the longest serving Labor woman” that it was time for her to “move on”. She went on to mention that she intended to “spend more time at home” with a new grandchild.

She also said it was time “for the next generation” and that although she still wanted to speak on policy matters, it was time for her to “step back”.

During her long career, Ms Macklin strongly advocated for the national apology made by Kevin Rudd to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous children.

She was also one of the key architects behind the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) that was developed by the Gillard Labor government.

Regarding the NDIS, Ms Macklin told Melbourne’s ABC radio that she admitted the NDIS was running into issues but that it would transform over time.

She said that “It’s got a way to go yet” but that it would be “revolutionary” in helping disabled Australians.

Ms Macklin will immediately step down as the Opposition spokesperson for social services and head straight to her backbench seat. She said that she wanted to allow time to ensure the MP who replaces her has time to get the portfolio across.

However, her decision to retire will force another reshuffle in the Labor frontbench, creating a small nuisance for party leader Bill Shorten.

Mr Shorten has roundly praised Ms Macklin, saying that she has “deep policy knowledge” as well as an “unshakeable conviction”.