AUSSIES are headed to the polls yet again after a WA federal MP made the shock announcement today he was resigning from Parliament, to spend more time with his family.
Labor MP Tim Hammond, the Member for Perth, made the announcement on local radio this morning.
His departure will trigger a by-election in the seat of Perth, which has long been held by Labor.
Hammond was considered one of Labor‚Äôs rising stars and has been praised by Opposition leader Bill Shorten and colleagues today as ‚Äúbright, ‚Äúhardworking‚ÄĚ and a loss to the party.
The young MP has also been praised as a ‚Äúvery decent, highly capable individual‚ÄĚ with a ‚Äúbright future‚ÄĚ by Liberal MP and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
‚ÄúI realise this is very unexpected news. But as much as I have tried desperately, I just cannot reconcile my life as a Federal Member of Parliament with being the father I need ‚ÄĒ and want ‚ÄĒ to be to my three children, whom are six years, two and a half years and seven months old,‚ÄĚ Mr Hammond said in a statement today.
‚ÄúThis is a decision that I have privately agonised over for many months and reflected most deeply upon. It is not taken lightly.‚ÄĚ
The move will trigger the fourth by-election for a federal politician in the past six months, following by-elections in New England, Bennelong and Batman caused by the citizenship saga.
Perth is considered a marginal Labor seat by 2.2 per cent.
Mr Hammond won the seat in 2016 with a 1.2 per cent swing towards Labor, gaining 53.3 per cent of the vote after preferences.
But the seat only went to Labor after Greens preferences. Liberal candidate Jeremy Quinn gained more votes outright.
Senator Cormann said he was genuinely sad to hear the news Mr Hammond would be stepping down even though they were political opponents.
‚ÄúWhile we are political competitors, we are also friends and colleagues involved in the same profession focused on making a positive difference to our community and to our country,‚ÄĚ Senator Cormann said.
‚ÄúTim is a very decent, highly capable individual with a bright future in whatever he decides to do next.
‚ÄúPublic service as a federal politician from WA is tough on our families. There is no question about that.
‚ÄúSo I understand and respect the decision that he and his family have come to.‚ÄĚ
Senator Cormann said it was Western Australia‚Äôs loss that Mr Hammond would not pursue his federal political career to its full potential.
SHORTEN SUPPORTS DECISION
Labor leader Bill Shorten thanked Mr Hammond for his service in a statement today, saying he understood it was a difficult decision for the young MP and respected his choice.
‚ÄúBy parliamentary standards, Tim is a young man and everything he had achieved to date pointed to a long and successful career in federal politics,‚ÄĚ Mr Shorten said.
‚ÄúBut after two years of travel and a lot of time spent on the opposite side of the country, Tim has decided to put his family first.
‚ÄúHe wants to be there for his wife and children more often. That‚Äôs something all of us feel very deeply, and none of us can argue with.
‚ÄúAs a colleague and a friend, I‚Äôm disappointed he won‚Äôt be part of our next Caucus but as a husband and a father, I‚Äôm glad he‚Äôll be with the people he cares about most in this world.‚ÄĚ
Mr Shorten described Mr Hammond as a ‚Äúbright and hardworking‚ÄĚ member of the Labor team who was ‚Äúfit enough to run marathons but smart enough to let me beat him in the Perth park run‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúHe brings a wonderful dry sense of humour to his politics, alongside a genuine passion for progress. I‚Äôm confident that a person of his qualities will achieve great success, whatever he turns to next,‚ÄĚ he said.
HAMMOND PUTS FAMILY FIRST
Mr Hammond will not be resigning immediately but expects to depart in a few weeks.
The 43-year-old MP thanked his supporters, colleagues and electorate and apologised to anyone he had disappointed by leaving today.
‚ÄúTo each one of you, I truly hope you understand that I would not have taken this step unless I knew beyond all certainty that I had tried everything to make this work,‚ÄĚ he said.
He explained that he the position had pulled him away from home more than he had anticipated and his relationships with his wife and children had suffered as a result.
He also ruled out running for state parliament or a return to public life.
‚ÄúThe reality is that I thought I had an appreciation of how to manage my duties as a Federal Member of Parliament in a way that did not have such an impact on my family,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúI got that wrong. I just did not anticipate the profound effect my absence would have on all of us.
‚ÄúAs a direct result of me being away from home, the strength of the relationships that I have built with my children have suffered in a way that is simply unsustainable for us as a family, and me as a Dad.
‚ÄúI am not saying that the life of a Western Australian Federal Member of Parliament is unmanageable. Many of my colleagues make it work. But it is time to be brutally honest and admit that I am not one of them.
‚ÄúMy wife Lindsay and I have tried incredibly hard to make this work.
‚ÄúAs well having relied upon support from family, friends and colleagues, I have actively sought out professional advice and assistance to try and preserve our family unit in a way that I felt confident would not suffer from my absence.‚ÄĚ
POLITICAL LIFE TOUGH ON LOVED ONES
His announcement comes just months after former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce‚Äôs relationship breakdown with his wife and new relationship with a former political staffer became public.
Mr Joyce also spoke of the challenges of a life in politics on families when he called for partners to be able to work for politicians last month.
Mr Hammond thanked Opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Labor Party for the opportunity to serve in Parliament.
‚ÄúI regret ‚ÄĒ so very much ‚ÄĒ that a by-election will be an inconvenience for my local community. However I know Labor will present a strong candidate to continue representing Perth ‚ÄĒ fighting for good jobs, better schools and hospitals, and a fair share for WA,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúI wish Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and their wonderful Labor team every success.‚ÄĚ
Fellow WA Labor MP Matt Keogh, who entered Parliament at the same time as Mr Hammond and is also a young father, said he understood how hard the ‚ÄúFIFO life‚ÄĚ of a federal MP was on WA families.
‚ÄúTim is also one of a group of newer MPs, like me, balancing the FIFO life of a Federal MP with having a young family. This is especially hard from WA. It is even harder on our spouses,‚ÄĚ he said in a statement.
‚ÄúToday is a sad day for Labor in WA but a happy one for the Hammond family.‚ÄĚ
Mr Keogh, who has known Mr Hammond for almost a decade, dating back to their time in the WA legal community, praised his colleague as a ‚Äútireless fighter for the victims of asbestosis and mesothelioma‚ÄĚ and a champion of the ‚Äúlittle guy‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúIn his brief time in Parliament Tim has forged friendships across the Labor caucus and with those across the aisle. He is someone that has always looked for the constructive solutions and compromises. I thank him for his wise counsel and friendship,‚ÄĚ Mr Keogh said.
Perth was previously held by Labor powerhouse Alannah MacTiernan, who is now a state MP in the McGowan Government.