Minister Kelly O’Dwyer quits fed politics

Australia

Australia’s Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer is quitting politics in order to spend more time with her family and try for a third child.

Alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a park in her Melbourne electorate of Higgins on Saturday, Ms O’Dwyer announced she would not be recontesting the seat at the next election.

“I need to be honest that I can not commit to another three years and continue to deliver the quality of service that my country, my party and my community are entitled to expect,” she told reporters.

“The reasons are complex and … very personal.”

Over the Christmas break she took time to reflect on her growing children Olivia and Edward, who will reach primary school age during the next parliament.

“I no longer want to consistently miss out on seeing my children when they wake up in the morning or go to bed at night and I want to know that when I am around, my time is not constantly disrupted,” she said.

“There is another very personal reason. Like so many other families, our journey to parenthood has not been straightforward,” adding that she and her husband want to give themselves the best opportunity to have a third child.

“We need to be very realistic. I turn 42 … this year and everything has to go right.”

Ms O’Dwyer said her choice did not mean men or women had to choose between family and public service, but this was the choice she had made for her.

Ms O’Dwyer thanked her community, Mr Morrison, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Liberal Party and her family for their support.

“There is no one I know who has worked harder or achieved more than Kelly O’Dwyer,” said Mr Morrison.

“I support her choice. I support all women’s choices. I want women to have more choices and all the independence that comes with that.

Ms O’Dwyer was first elected to the seat in a by-election to replace former treasurer Peter Costello in 2009.

Both Ms O’Dwyer and Mr Morrison suggested a woman could be preselected for the job.

“There are so many talented women in this seat and my phone, I’m sure when I get back to my desk, is going to be filled with quite a number of telephone calls from them,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

“This seat will be represented incredibly well by one of the very talented people who come forward and I have no doubt that it will be a woman.”

A former lawyer, Ms O’Dwyer holds Higgins by eight per cent.

Her resignation comes on the back of a battering for the Liberals in the Victorian state election, including in the party’s heartland.

The next federal election is expected for May this year.

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