Jennifer Louise "Jenny" Macklin (born 29 December 1953) is an Australian politician. She was Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs from 3 December 2007 until 18 September 2013. She served in the Ministries of both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. She was previously Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, serving from 2001 until 2006. She currently serves as the Shadow Minister for Disability Reform. She has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives since March 1996, representing the Division of Jagajaga, Victoria.
Macklin was a researcher at the Australian National University in 1976–78, an economics research specialist with the Parliamentary Library in Canberra 1978–81, Research Coordinator at the Labour Resource Centre in Melbourne 1981–85, an adviser to the Victorian Minister for Health 1985–88, director of the federal government's National Health Strategy 1990–93 and director of the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review 1993–95.
On her election to Parliament as a member of the Australian Labor Party, Macklin was immediately elected a member of the Opposition Shadow Cabinet, where she served in a number of roles, including Shadow Minister for Aged Care, Social Security and the Status of Women. After the 1998 election, Macklin became Shadow Minister for Health. She is a member of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party.
After the ALP's defeat at the 2001 election, Macklin was elected Deputy Leader to Simon Crean. She was the first woman to hold a leadership position in either Australian major party. She took on the position of Shadow Minister for Education. Macklin remained Deputy Leader after Crean's replacement as leader by Mark Latham in December 2003, and also under Kim Beazley following Latham's resignation in January 2005. Macklin became the first person to be deputy to three leaders of the ALP since Frank Forde.
On 1 December 2006, Macklin's position as deputy leader of the ALP came under threat after Kim Beazley called for a spill of all the leadership positions, in a bid to end growing speculation over the issue. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kevin Rudd, and Shadow Minister for Health, Julia Gillard, announced their intentions to run against Beazley and Macklin as a team for the positions of leader and deputy leader respectively of the party. On the day of the ballot, Macklin effectively stepped down from the position, choosing not to contest the deputy leadership after Kevin Rudd was elected as the new party leader. Macklin was once again elected to the Shadow frontbench, and was appointed Shadow Minister for Families and Community Services and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation. She maintained these portfolios in government after Labor's victory in the 2007 election, overseeing the formal apology to the "stolen generations" delivered by Kevin Rudd in February 2008.
On 23 November 2011, the Stronger Futures Policy legislation was introduced by Jenny Macklin to Parliament and was subsequently supported by Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister. The policy intends to address key issues that exist within Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory in areas such as unemployment, school attendance and enrollment, alcohol abuse, community safety and child protection, food security and housing and land reforms.
After visiting Balgo, Western Australia in February 2012, she reportedly stated, "I do not believe that specific issues regarding CDEP providers or job service providers failing to follow proper procedures and regulations were raised with me during my visit to Balgo," she said. "Now that these issues have been brought to my attention, they will be investigated by my department." However, Traditional owner Olive Darkie said the community was hurting: "I told Jenny Macklin, I was waiting for the answer but got no answer. They haven't changed anything. It's got worse since they came in. People don't know where to go."
While defending cuts to single parent benefits in January 2013, Macklin commented that she "could live on the dole". This comment was widely perceived as out-of-touch and offensive. The situation was exacerbated when the official transcripts of her comments were edited to read "inaudible,". After the incident, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan described extra payments for low-income families as "generous," and Greens MP Adam Bandt challenged Ms Macklin to live with him on the dole for a week.
Ten days later Macklin apologised for her comments, saying "I can understand that people are angry about what I've said. I have heard that message clearly over the last week or so. I acknowledge my remarks were insensitive, that I could've been clearer in the way that I expressed myself. I do understand that it is very hard to live on a very low income, including unemployment benefits."
- Topsfield, Jewel (5 December 2006). "Factions left behind in leadership vote". Age (Canberra: Fairfax). Retrieved 21 July 2010.
- "Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory". Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Work-for-the-dole 'paid to prisoners', Australian, 25 February 2012
- "Labor MPs agree it's tough to live on dole but dodge claims made by Jenny Macklin". News Corp Australia. 3 January 2013.
- "The great vanishing act: Macklin's dole comment disappears". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- David Barbeler and Patrick Caruana (5 January 2013). "Newstart $35 a day incredibly tough: PM". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Families Minister 'could' live on dole". 1 January 2013.
- "Macklin says she could live on the dole". ABC News. 2 January 2013.
- Jonathon Swan (11 January 2013). "Macklin apologises for 'insensitive' Newstart comments". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 25 September 2013.
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|Minister for Families, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs
| Succeeded by|
|Parliament of Australia|
|Member for Jagajaga
|Party political offices|
|Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party
| Succeeded by|