Bendigo MP announces retirement

PRIME minister Julia Gillard has congratulated Steve Gibbons on his long service to the Bendigo community following his announcement that he will not seek preselection for the next federal election."As the longest serving federal MP for Bendigo since Federation, Steve leaves a strong legacy,'' she said. "Since Steve won his seat for Labor in 1998 he has been the best kind of local member: representing his party in his community, and representing his community in the Parliament."I know that commitment will be undiminished in the coming two years."And beyond the next election, I’m sure he is looking forward to some good times noodling on his bass guitar and working on his motorbikes."While I will be sorry to see Steve go, I will wish him well when he does embark on this new phase in his life.''Mr Gibbons' announcement comes after Labor’s Victorian Administrative Committee confirmed on Friday it would open all seats for pre-selection ahead of the next election.“I’m announcing my intentions now to give the party plenty of notice for a proper and consultative process in choosing a replacement candidate,” Mr Gibbons said.“I think it is very important to give the new candidate plenty of time to establish a strong campaign profile.“I’ve served as Bendigo’s federal MP for longer than any other federal MP for Bendigo since the electorate was first established at federation in 1901.” Gallery: Bendigo MP Steve Gibbons. Speculation has surrounded Mr Gibbons’ future for months.He plans to make a statement about his future next week.Mr Gibbons said Friday’s announcement prompted him to consider his future.The Bendigo Advertiser understands Mr Gibbons tussled with the idea of turning 66 during another term in office.State Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan has paid tribute to Mr Gibbons’ service to the Labor party.“Steve has been a very proud and long-standing member for Labor for the seat of Bendigo,” she said.“He should be exceptionally proud of his service and he has served the electorate vigorously.”Labor is in a minority federal government, however Mr Gibbons today denied that played a role in his retirement.He expects his government will serve a full three-year term and have an election in 2013.“All governments fortunes ebb and flow and the current situation is no different to the position the Howard government was experiencing in 2001 and as the election drew closer the polls evened out as they always do,” Mr Gibbons said.“History has shown the Howard government recovered and went on to win the 2001 election comfortably. “I expect Labor will do the same and be very competitive in 2013.“The Labor federal vote in Bendigo is in the strongest position it has ever been, arguably since federation, and I’m confident that with Labor’s outstanding record of achievement for Bendigo and central Victoria and with the right candidate, we will comfortably retain the Bendigo seat.”

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