Today I have informed the Premier that I will not contest the seat of Albert Park at the November state election.
Consequently, I will also be stepping down as a Minister in the Andrews Labor Government.
The Andrews Labor Government is leading the nation in our recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic. Brimming with ideas and enthusiasm for the future, with a talented pool of existing and emerging leaders, headed by the experienced Premier Daniel Andrews, our state is well on the way to a better future.
The past two years have been a tough time for all Victorians. Many of us have come to reflect on what we aspire to achieve. I am no different. I am looking forward to contributing to a better, fairer, sustainable Victoria in a different capacity. One that allows me more time to focus on my family and wellbeing and different interests.
It has been a privilege to serve my local community in the district of Albert Park – the best part of our great state. To the people of Albert Park, I owe all my thanks. Serving as a Minister in Australia’s most progressive government – most recently as Minister for Health, Ambulance Services and Equality – has been a great honour.
Our health and ambulance services have been through the toughest of times in this pandemic. Working with our health services – nurses, doctors, paramedics, and allied health professionals and scientists – has been the greatest revelation of my professional life.
Our health system achievements and our recovery through these last two years is all owed to them.
Health workers’ dedication – and that of the professional public servants who work tirelessly in departments across government – fills me with tremendous pride and hope for the future. Their efforts, together with the backing of six million Victorians, has been at the heart of our pandemic response. They have saved countless lives.
I have also had the great opportunity to serve in a range of other portfolios where reforms have helped change Victoria for the better.
Being Australia’s first Minister for Equality and establishing the LGBTIQ+ equality portfolio. Striving for equality for our rainbow community is now a pillar of a modern Victoria.
Working to establish Australia’s first Royal Commission into our mental health system and seeing the delivery of that reform will transform and save lives is a great opportunity.
Delivering Victoria’s contribution to the National Disability Insurance Scheme has allowed me to see so many people with disabilities and their families empowered to contribute an engaged and contributing life.
Ending the selloff of residential aged care and looking to the state as being the provider of quality services will serve as a beacon for service delivery reforms.
Backing our creative sector and making the tens of thousands of creatives a core part of our artistic, cultural, and economic life has privileged me to see how a confident Victoria now sees ourselves and the part we play in our world.
Helping lay the foundation for the social housing and homelessness services expansion and the important alcohol and drug reforms – including delivering the Medical Supervised Injecting Service – has saved many lives.
There remains more to be done.
I am proud to have played a role in these efforts. None of this would have been possible without the support and leadership of my friend, the Premier, Daniel Andrews. His efforts to build a progressive, prosperous vision for our State and its people are at the heart of this government achievements.
I also thank my Caucus colleagues for their collaboration and backing in the toughest of times. We have a great team. One where we are all building a proud legacy of growth, prosperity and reform that only Labor governments can achieve.
I have been fortunate to have been supported by the best, most professional, and compassionate group of people in my Ministerial and electorate office staff. I cannot thank them enough for their dedication and service.
I acknowledge in particular my loyal Chief of Staff of 11 years, Lisa Calabria. Her passion, her lived Labor values, her support and her good humour have been pivotal to whatever we may have been able to achieve.
Finally, to my family. Only they know the support and love they have provided to sustain us. Their sacrifice has been integral to anything that may have been achieved throughout my time as a Member of Parliament.
None more so than my wife and soul mate Sharon Duff. No words can thank her enough.
Now is the time where I attempt to repay them for all they have done.