Liberal Craig Laundy will not recontest his Sydney seat at the coming federal election, bowing out on Friday by paying respect to the friendships he has formed across party lines during his time in politics.
In a statement confirming his intention to quit politics, Laundy said public life “was never just a job to me. It was an opportunity to serve the electorate that my family has called home for four generations.
“In the years to come, I will be able to walk around this part of Sydney with the fifth generation of my family, my grandkids, and be able to point to things and proudly say, you know what, grandpa had something to do with that.”
Laundy’s departure will probably hand his Sydney seat of Reid to Labor, which is a body blow to the Coalition, which starts the coming election contest behind – but the MP thanked his Coalition colleagues “who welcomed this western Sydney publican with open arms into the world of politics, a world which was very unusual to me, but I’ve loved every minute of my chance to serve a community and country I love.
“At a time where the vast majority of Australians see politics as fiercely divided, the irony is, I’ve made friendships that I believe will be lifelong on both sides of the chamber and am extremely proud of that.”
The Sydney MP was one of Malcolm Turnbull’s staunchest allies, and expressed his profound alienation from politics after the Liberals moved against their leader last year. Laundy was ready to announce his intended retirement some time ago, but honoured a request from Scott Morrison to hold off, while a suitable replacement candidate was found.
The moderate Liberal took Reid from Labor for the first time in party history in 2013. He said he did not intend to contest the coming election as an independent. He said it was time to put his family first.
Laundy spoke candidly about his experiences having a ringside seat at last year’s leadership ructions to Guardian Australia last year. “In the heat of battle, the thing that most surprised me … was the minute my teammates knew Malcolm was gone, they left,” he said last October.
“They worked with Scott. I stayed with Malcolm. I was worried about him. I wanted to make sure he and Lucy were OK.”
Laundy’s departure is another high profile loss for the Liberal party, which is also farewelling Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Steve Ciobo, Michael Keenan, Kelly O’Dwyer and Nigel Scullion.
Reid is considered one of the electorates the Liberal party is in danger of losing in the May poll.
Given it was held by Labor for most of its history, it has never been a safe Coalition seat. Laundy held it by 4.7%. Labor installed Sam Crosby, who headed its McKell Institute thinktank, as its candidate for Reid in early 2018, while Laundy was still workplace minister, having identified the seat as an early target.