I am the Australian Labor Party Senator for the Australian Capital Territory and former Chief Minister of the ACT.
Prior to my election to the ACT Legislative Assembly, I worked for five years for the Community and Public Sector Union as an Industrial Organiser for Commonwealth public servants. My career began in the community sector working for People First ACT, an organisation providing advocacy and support to individuals with an intellectual disability. I have also been a project worker for Woden Community Service working with children with disabilities.
I have strong connections to Canberra having grown up in the Weston Creek area, attending Duffy Primary School, Melrose High and Stirling College before undertaking a degree at the Australian National University. I currently live in north Canberra with my partner and three children
I was elected to the position of leader of the ACT Labor party, unopposed, by my colleagues in May 2011 – after the resignation of my friend and mentor, former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope - and voted Chief Minister by the Legislative Assembly. I was sworn in on Monday 16 May 2011.
Following the ACT Election on 20th October 2012 and the signing of a new Parliamentary Agreement with ACT Greens member Shane Rattenbury, I was re-elected by the Legislative Assembly as Chief Minister on Tuesday 6 November 2012.
Previously, I have held roles in the ACT Government including Treasurer, Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS).
As Treasurer I helped steer the ACT through the global financial crisis, delivering record levels of capital works in 2009-10 which has supported jobs and economic activity through the worst of the slow down. As Minister for Community Services, I oversaw the review and reinvigoration of child protection services for the ACT’s children and young people.
In my role as Minister for Territory and Municipal Services I worked to ensure that the day-to-day services that we provide are maintained and that we respond to community needs as Canberra grows. This growth means that we need to increase our services such as public transport, waste collection and recycling, parks and recreation areas and libraries, to continue to deliver high quality services to the community.
Prior to the 2012 election, ACT Labor outlined a detailed and ambitious plan for the continued modernisation and expansion of Canberra’s health system. This $1 billion plus programme involves a complete rebuild of the ACT’s health and hospital system – ensuring Canberra is ready for the future. As Minister for Health, it is my job to oversee this project and I am committed to seeing our plan come to fruition, which includes the roll out of Nurse led walk in Centres’ in Tuggeranong and Belconnen and the construction of the new North side University of Canberra Public Hospital.
In the ministries of Regional Development and Higher Education, I worked hard to expand Canberra’s role as a south east region services hub by diversifying our economy to help alleviate our cities reliance on the Federal Government.
In December 2014 I resigned as Chief Minister to contest the casual vacancy in the Senate following the resignation by Kate Lundy.
After much consideration I decided that I could use the skills I gained in my time as Chief Minister to step into the federal arena to stand up for Canberra, defend our city and be a strong local voice for our nation’s capital. A job that has never been more important than now. I was fortunate to preselected unopposed by the ACT Branch of the Australian Labor Party and on March 25th 2015 sworn in as Senator for the Australian Capital Territory.
On the 1st of November 2015 I was elevated to the Federal Labor frontbench, taking up responsibility as Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on State and Territory Relations for the period until the 2016 election.
Following the 2016 election I was privileged to receive shadow portfolio responsibility as Labor's Shadow Minister for Small Business and Financial Services.
Hands Across Canberra
Dragons Abreast ACT
National Health Co-op
Canberra Youth Theatre