Who’s voluntarily leaving politics at this election?

This election campaign will be the voluntary end of the political careers for several members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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Among them are high-flyers…notably the former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and several others of her frontbenchers who resigned when Kevin Rudd was reinstalled as Labor leader.

 

Erdem Koc looks at those departing the nation’s capital.

 

Deputy Speaker: “I call the Prime Minister.”

Gillard: “Thank you very much Deputy Speaker and I rise to oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition…. And in so doing, I say to the leader of the opposition, I will not be lectured about sexism and misogny by this man, I will not…”

 

It’s said to be one of Julia Gillard’s finest moments — the speech where she accuses Tony Abbott of being a misogynist.

 

The former P-M made international headlines when she delivered the impromptu speech, following an unsuccessful no-confidence motion by the Leader of the Opposition, who claimed private text messages sent by the then Speaker Peter Slipper were sexist.

 

Mr Abbott claimed in parliament that he was offended by the texts – and so should everybody who read them.

 

But it was Ms Gillard’s reply that caught the most attention.

 

“I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the Witch”. I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a “man’s bitch”. I was offended by those things. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this Leader of the Opposition, every day in every way across the time the Leader of the Opposition has sat in that chair, and I’ve sat in this chair, that is all we have heard from him.”

 

Julia Gillard is one of the several M-Ps who are quitting politics at this election.

 

She was Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but many claimed that the way she came to power in 2010 by ousting Kevin Rudd one evening, would always haunt her.

 

And it did.

 

At the third leadership ballot called by Ms Gillard in two years, she was defeated when her predecessor was elected as her successor.

 

In calling the June ballot, Ms Gillard issued this ultimatum in an interview with Sky News.

 

Gillard: “I believe anybody who enters the ballot tonight should do it on the following conditions: that if you win, you’re Labor leader, that if you lose, you retire from politics.”

Reporter: “And you’re agreeing to do that?”

Gillard: “Oh, absolutely.”

Reporter: “If you lose tonight, you will leave parliament at the election?”

Gillard: “Correct.”

 

And so ended her 15 years in federal parliament, representing the Melbourne electorate of Lalor, and an even longer one in politics, which included being the chief-of-staff to the former Victorian Premier, John Brumby.

 

Ms Gillard’s defeat resulted in the resignation of several of her former frontbenchers, who also voluntarily leave parliament at this election.

 

They’re Defence Minister Stephen Smith, former Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, former Trade Minister Craig Emerson, and former Education Minister Peter Garrett.

 

The former Labor leader Simon Crean has also quit, ending 23 years of his political career.

 

Another Labor veteran leaving politics is former Speaker of the House, Harry Jenkins.

 

His father, who also carries the same name, was his predecessor in the Victorian seat of Scullin, and was also once a Speaker of the House.

 

Mr Jenkins says the greatest moment of his 27 years in parliament was the apology to the Stolen Generations.

 

“There is nothing that can underestimate the way this place buzzed throughout the grand halls, right down to the mall. People were really energised and excited.”

 

And in his valedictory speech, Harry Jenkins urged his divided party to unite.

 

“United we stand, divided we fall. That’s clear. The motto – unity is strength.”

 

Other outgoing Labor members are former ministers Robert McClelland and Nicola Roxon, Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore, Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons and Newcastle’s Sharon Grierson.

 

For the Liberal Party, there’s Joanna Gash in the House of Representatives seat of Gilmore, Judi Moylan in Pearce, Alby Schultz in Hume, Patrick Secker in Barker, Paul Neville in Hinkler, Alex Somlyay in Fairfax, and Mal Washer in Moore have also called it quits.

 

Two of the unexpected resignations came from the key independents who delivered power to Labor following the hung parliament in 2010.

 

Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor both cited personal reasons for leaving, with Mr Windsor battling a health issue, and Mr Oakeshott saying he wanted to spend more time with his young family.

 

In his valedictory speech, Mr Oakeshott said the past three years had the been the toughest of his life, but paid tribute to the person who he said kept it all together.

 

“About 10 minutes before a party room ballot last night — you know, we all get a bit of a sense of what’s going on in the joint — I sent the Prime Minister a text. And it was to say her father would be proud of her.”

 

Senate retirees include Labor’s Chris Evans from Western Australia and Trish Crossin from the Northern Territory, and the Coalition’s Sue Boyce, from Queensland.

 

Senator Crossin’s retirement though comes not by will, but by force.

 

She was dumped by Julia Gillard and replaced with indigenous Olympian Nova Peris as the new Labor candidate.

 

In her valedictory speech — which was partly given in an indigenous language — Senator Crossin delivered a parting swipe at her own party.

 

“Do we need more women in Parliament? Well of course we do. But not at the expense of each other. And do we need Indigenous representation? Most certainly, but not in a vacuum without a plan or without a strategy. Just because one person says it must be so doesn’t make it right or democratic.”

 

 

 

 

 

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