On behalf of the nation, I present the fifth annual Closing the Gap Statement.
I am here today because the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of this country have decided to walk the path of Reconciliation together.
Because the workers of Wave Hill said no and the voters of 1967 said yes.
Because in a proud Labor tradition, Gough Whitlam poured the soil and Bob Hawke handed Uluru back.
Because Paul Keating inscribed native title in our laws and Kevin Rudd said our nation was Sorry.
Because this Government intends that our Constitution must speak for all Australians and the gap that separates our opportunities and living standards must be closed.
Closing the Gap is a plan of unprecedented scale and ambition.
A plan not only to uplift the lives of Indigenous Australians but to do so in a shared endeavour of partnership and respect.
That high level of ambition commits us to two decades of annual reckoning until we bridge the gulf that stands between us.
Few if any of the men and women who sit in this Parliament today will still be here when a future Prime Minister delivers the final Closing the Gap Statement in 2031.
A short walk to this despatch box that we hope will mark the end of a monumental journey.
Wherever we are on that day, the people of this land will want to hear one thing.
That we have, at last, accorded Indigenous Australians the health care, education, job opportunities and community services they deserve.
Above all, the opportunity unknown to many Indigenous people today – the chance to grow old.
These goals require us to raise our eyes and lift our expectations; to invest, plan and think for the future.
It is the work of an entire generation and work that has begun with us.
So I account to the Parliament and people of Australia today.
This is the fifth such Statement since the task began in 2008.
Already we know that some targets, like life expectancy, will be enormously challenging to meet, even with almost two decades still to run.
On others, progress has been encouragingly swift.
Across the board, our sources of data and information are stronger than ever before.
The report I make today is especially significant because this year, the very first of the target deadlines established five years ago falls due.
In 2008 we pledged to deliver access to early childhood education to all four-year-olds in remote communities within five years.
Well, the five years are up.
I’m proud to say – we’ve got it done.