The Australian government has been rocked by more resignations, with another two ministers declaring they will not contest the next election.
This morning Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion announced he would quit his Northern Territory Senate seat.
“It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve the people of the Northern Territory for the last 17 years in the Australian Senate,” Mr Scullion said.
“My path to public office wasn’t a conventional one. I was just an everyday fisherman and sometime buffalo shooter and I raised my three beautiful children Sarah, Daniel and Luke on a fishing boat off the coast of Gove and North East Arnhem Land.
“John Howard famously said the Coalition is a very broad church and the fact that it has allowed a bloke like me to sit around its cabinet table shows just why it continues to be the party hardworking Australian families keep putting their trust and faith in.”
Mr Scullion did not elaborate on his reasons for quitting.
His revelation came less than 24 hours after Human Services Minister Michael Keenan also announced he was leaving politics, citing his desire to spend more time with his family.
“Whilst politics is a proud vocation, it is also a difficult and exhausting business,” Mr Keenan said.
“The pressures on family life are formidable, as are the constant rigours of being an effective member of parliament, as well as a minister in the government.
“I have always worked hard as a member of parliament and as a minister, but after doing this for 15 years, I cannot commit to another term.”
In response, the government’s Senate leader Mathias Cormann praised his longtime colleague.
“Serving in the federal parliament at such a senior level from WA is tough on our families,” Mr Cormann admitted.
“Michael had no kids when he first got elected back in 2004. Today he and Georgina have four beautiful boys.
“We are sad to see him go, but entirely understand and respect the reasons for his decision.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was also fulsome in his praise.
“Michael was my predecessor as Justice Minister, a portfolio he mastered and in which he worked incredibly hard, particularly in the area of counter terrorism,” Mr Dutton said.
“Michael is one of the most decent and well respected MPs in the parliament and I’m proud to say, a great mate. Kirilly and I wish Georgina, Michael and their four boys all the best for the next phase of life.”
The exodus of senior government MPs began last week, when Minister for Jobs and Women Kelly O’Dwyer said she would not recontest her seat Higgins.
Ms O’Dwyer also cited personal reasons for her decision, saying it was difficult to balance family life with the pressures of her job and she wanted the opportunity to have a third child.
There could be more high profile resignations to come as Liberal and National MPs face the prospect of losing the election, which is expected in May.
Today The Australian reported Prime Minister Scott Morrison had spent two hours meeting with former minister Craig Laundy, a prominent supporter of Malcolm Turnbull, in an attempt to convince him to stay.
The Liberals currently hold his seat Reid by a margin of 4.7 per cent.
Mr Morrison has also tried to strengthen the government’s electoral prospects by controversially recruiting Aboriginal businessman and former Labor Party national president Warren Mundine to run in Gilmore, a seat the Liberals hold by just 0.7 per cent.
Mr Mundine quit Labor in 2012 after an unsuccessful bid for preselection.