It is an honour to be provided by the Prime Minister with the opportunity to serve as Attorney-General of Australia and I congratulate George Brandis on his enormous contribution to Australian public life.
I also congratulate Dan Tehan on his appointment as Minister for Social Services.
The role of Minister for Social Services is critical to our nation achieving improved lives for Australian citizens by moving as many people as possible from welfare into work.
I have been part of a team with Alan Tudge that has reduced the number of working age Australians dependent on welfare by 140,000, down to 15.1 per cent of the working age population – the lowest rate of welfare dependence since the 1980s. This has improved individual lives and ensured the sustainability of the welfare system for future generations.
It is absolutely critical that work to ensure our welfare system remains financially sustainable for future generations continues and moves capable Australians from welfare to work. I know that Dan Tehan will continue the dedication to this task.
It has also been a particular privilege to play a key role in the critical period of the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This major reform is vital to the expected 460,000 people with disability who will be part of the NDIS when it reaches full scheme in 2020.
I have seen first-hand the positive impact the NDIS is bringing to the lives of people with disability, their carers and families as we have moved from about 20,000 to more than 120,000 participants in the last two years.
Any such reform will always have challenges, but I know the Board, Chaired by Dr Helen Nugent AO and the recently appointed CEO, Rob De Luca, are absolutely the right people to steer the NDIS through its next critical phase.
Finally, I wish to thank the leadership and staff of the Department of Social Services. I have enjoyed immensely working with Finn Pratt AO PSM and, more recently, Kathryn Campbell CSC as Secretaries of my department.
DSS is well served by many dedicated staff who are committed to improving the lives of Australians.