Dan Tehan Appointed New Minister for Social Services
19 December 2017 at 5:21 pm
Dan Tehan has been appointed the new minister for social services – the fourth appointment to the role in as many years – as outgoing minister Christian Porter takes up the role of attorney-general.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, with Porter taking over from George Brandis as attorney-general after serving just over two years as social services minister.
In Porter’s place, Turnbull announced Tehan as the new minister for social services, to be supported by assistant ministers Jane Prentice and David Gillespie.
“Dan Tehan will join cabinet in the critical role of minister for social services. He will work closely with the newly created role of assistant minister for children and families, which will be filled by David Gillespie, as well as with Jane Prentice, who has been doing an outstanding job as assistant minister for social services and disability services,” Turnbull said.
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— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) December 19, 2017
Tehan is a Victorian MP for the regional seat of Wannon, which he has held since 2010. Since February 2016, Tehan has served as the minister for veterans’ affairs and he also became the minister for defence personnel in July that year.
Prior to entering parliament, Tehan was a senior adviser to the deputy prime minister in the Howard government and he spent two years as chief of staff to the minister for small business and tourism.
Tehan said he was humbled to be chosen as the new social services minister.
“I am honoured and humbled that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked me to serve the Australian people as minister for social services,” Tehan said.
“I understand the size of my new responsibility. Australians are rightly proud of our social security system and the government must focus on keeping it sustainable for future generations.
“I will work hard to support people to move from welfare to work and to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) director of policy and advocacy, Edwina MacDonald, told Pro Bono News they looked forward to working with the new minister.
“We have written to minister Tehan congratulating him on his appointment and look forward to working with him to reduce poverty and inequality in Australia,” MacDonald said.
The Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) CEO Louise Giolitto said she also welcomed the appointment.
“We congratulate Dan Tehan’s appointment as the new minister for social services,” Giolitto told Pro Bono News.
“We understand he comes from regional Victoria, and so we hope that he brings with him a sound understanding of people who are doing it tough in regional Australia.”
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare said they hoped Tehan would bring leadership to the role.
“Minister Tehan now has an opportunity to reverse government cuts to child care, income support, and family payments,” centre CEO Deb Tsorbaris said.
“[He] needs to show leadership and respond in full to recommendations from the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission.
“The centre is concerned about the reduction of social services funding, and long-term programs that have been de-funded. The federal government must work with states and territories to ensure every child, every young person is given the best possible chance to succeed in life.”
Labor’s shadow minister for social services, Jenny Macklin, said Tehan needed to focus on fixing problems with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and dropping “zombie cuts” initiated by Porter.
“Dan Tehan has been appointed to clean up Christian Porter’s mess,” Macklin said.
“Many of Porter’s zombie cuts have been rejected by the Parliament on a number of occasions – it’s time for Tehan to drop them once and for all.”
Porter said he was honoured to be appointed attorney-general and he congratulated Tehan for taking over as social services minister.
“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,” Porter said.
“I also congratulate Dan Tehan on his appointment as minister for social services.
“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.”
Porter added that it was a privilege to oversee the rollout of the NDIS.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The Law Council of Australia said they welcomed Porter’s appointment as the next attorney-general of Australia.
Law Council president, Fiona McLeod SC, said: “On behalf of the legal profession, I congratulate Mr Porter on his appointment.
“As a former senior prosecutor for the Western Australian DPP, and later state attorney-general, Mr Porter well understands the importance of the rule of law and the steps, which are not always popular, that need to be taken in its defence.
As a former senior prosecutor for the Western Australian DPP, and later state Attorney-General, Mr Porter well understands the importance of the rule of law and the steps, which are not always popular, that need to be taken in its defence – https://t.co/3DZ56VswhP #auslaw pic.twitter.com/LR863By92d
— Law Council (@thelawcouncil) December 19, 2017
“We look forward to engaging constructively with Mr Porter on a myriad of issues in 2018, from legal aid and court resourcing to the careful balancing of important human rights and freedoms.”
Meanwhile, UNICEF Australia said they were pleased to see the creation of a new dedicated assistant minister for children and families in the Australian government, with the appointment of Gillespie to the role.
Turnbull said Gillespie would work with Tehan, “to ensure children get the best start in life and families get all the support they need”.
UNICEF Australia Director, Tony Stuart, said they looked forward to working with the assistant minister to ensure the government prioritises children and young people.
“This is a significant development for children, young people and families in Australia. It is a well-considered initiative that will help position the interests of children squarely at the centre of the national policy agenda,” Stuart said.
“UNICEF Australia is eager to engage with the assistant minister… [on] pressing areas of government policy for children and young people.
“During 2018, we invite the assistant minister to join us in hearing directly from children – about their lives, their biggest challenges and what they need and expect from government.”