02 Mar 2019 Media release

Today I announce my retirement from the Australian Parliament.

It’s time to retire while people are asking me to stay, rather than continue and end up later with people telling me to go!

Twenty seven years ago I was preselected as the Liberal candidate on a platform of renewal – in 2019, it is time to renew again.

I’m confident that I leave my seat in good shape. I’m sure the Liberal Party will retain Sturt at the coming election.

I have every confidence that the Prime Minister will lead the Coalition to victory when the election is held in May.

At fifty one, I still have the opportunity to have a second career beyond politics.

Thank you to the Liberal Party in South Australia and in Sturt for giving me the opportunity to carry the Liberal banner in this seat to nine elections for over a quarter of a century. They are a wonderful group of people. The Liberal Party in South Australia and nationally can be a rambunctious Party at times, but I believe in the Party, and always will.

Thank you to my beautiful family – my wife Carolyn, my children Eleanor, Barnaby, Felix and Aurelia as well as my extended family. We are a close network of supportive people. My family have been with me every step of my political career. I volunteered but they were conscripted yet they supported me willingly and graciously.

Thank you to my loyal, effective and engaging staff. From my Chiefs of Staff down, they have all served the Australian public in one of the most rewarding careers in our society. They are all friends as well as work mates. I’ve been very lucky to work alongside them.

As Minister for Defence and before that Defence Industry, I’ve been responsible for delivering the $200 billion build-up of Australia’s military capability, the largest in Australia’s peacetime history, which at the same time we have used to fundamentally reshape our strategic industrial base. These roles have included implementing the largest navy, air, and army projects in seventy-five years and creating the Pacific Step Up to support Australia’s strategic position in the South Pacific.

Beyond the Defence portfolio I am proud to have delivered the National Innovation and Science Agenda in 2015, reformed the National Curriculum, introduced compulsory literacy and numeracy testing for Australian teaching graduates and expanded phonics teaching in remote schools in northern Australia.

But I’m also grateful that the youth mental health initiative I created in 2006 calledheadspace survived the Labor Government and has gone on to thrive and become a fixture in the mental health sector.

Of course, I’m glad to have been able to deliver myriad infrastructure, sporting and community development facilities across the eastern and north eastern suburbs that make our community a great place to live, work and socialise.

Since 1993, I’ve been a backbencher for ten years and a frontbencher for sixteen, in Cabinet for six years and the Leadership Group for ten; in government for seventeen and opposition for nine. That places me as the longest serving non-Labor Member of the House of Representatives from South Australia since Federation in 1901.

Four Prime Ministers have appointed me to their Executives – as Minister for Defence; Defence Industry; Industry, Innovation and Science; Education and Training; and Ageing. Prime Ministers Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison chose me to be their Leader of the House.

In May, that political career comes to an end.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt said a long time ago:

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those that have much but whether we provide enough to those that have little.

I’ve tried to keep that creed as my lodestar throughout my career. I’ve had a fortunate life, so I believe that those who have been given opportunities have a responsibility to work to give others the same opportunities. I hope I’ve sometimes succeeded.

Finally, I’d like to thank the electors of Sturt – thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and the privilege of representing you.