STEVE Gibbons says he will be happy to walk away from politics in September and that he won’t miss it at all.
The Member for Bendigo was elected to Federal Parliament in 1998 and said his time in office had consisted of “exhilarating highs and debilitating lows”.
He told the Bendigo Advertiser he was proud of his achievements and said he didn’t expect to “survive” as long as he had.
“My exit from Bendigo politics will be absolute,” he said. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride.
“The highs have been the achievements we’ve been able to pull off here in Bendigo.
“I was delighted to play a role in securing the first Bushmaster contract when Howard was walking away from it, proud to campaign for federal funding for the Calder Highway which was a four-year fight, getting an MRI licence in Bendigo when we didn’t have one and proud of the effort in saving McPherson’s Printing in Maryborough.”
Mr Gibbons said he was also proud to have grown the Hawkei program.
But he said having the sons of two staff members and his chief of staff pass away were lows.
“And I wouldn’t have used such colourful language against the leader and the deputy opposition leader on Twitter,” he said. “The first nine years in opposition was brutally hard work.
“If you had to choose between government and opposition, government wins hands down; you can achieve more.” Mr Gibbons said he had never enjoyed the personal side of politics or the spin, but had only “dished out after it was dished to me”.
“I think calling the election yesterday so far from the election date will lead to a much cleaner Parliament,” he said. “The debates won’t be as heated. I’ve been in there slinging it with the best of them but I won’t miss that, it’s not something I’ve enjoyed that much.”
He said he wasn’t concerned how he would be remembered or worried if he was completely forgotten.
“I’d recommend politics to anybody; it can be a very rewarding experience, especially when you have a few victories,” Mr Gibbons said.
“People come to see the local member in all manner of distressing circumstances and I get a big buzz out of helping them.
“I’d like to have been given a portfolio in government or opposition but I never sought one. But that’s fine.
“I won’t miss it at all... if I was going to miss it I wouldn’t have retired.”
He said he wanted to thank his staff and said his retirement would give him time for hobbies like car restoration and playing bass.