1 December 2015

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NEWS DESK

Billson quits politics, puts family first Neil Walker neil@mpnews.com.au DUNKLEY will have a new elected representative after the next federal election. That result a certainty after Liberal MP Bruce Billson announced he is quitting politics last week. In a statement released last Tuesday (24 November) Mr Billson said he will not seek re-election and “decided it is the right time to ‘hang up the campaign R.M. Williams’ [shoes]”. The former small business minister’s exit from politics follows a 20-year stint as a parliamentarian including 12 years as either a cabinet or shadow cabinet minister. Mr Billson was axed from cabinet by incoming Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after Mr Turnbull ousted former prime minister Tony Abbott in September. Mr Billson’s decision to walk away from politics came after consultation with his family. “It has become clear to us that while I love what I do, it is not possible for me to fully do what I love,” he said in the statement. He described his time in parliament as “both challenging and incredibly satisfying” since it included many roles in portfolios such as veteran affairs, defence, foreign affairs and trade, immigration, indigenous and multicultural affairs. “To be able to work ‘selflessly’ for your community and nation is what is required and rightfully expected. However to do so requires a ‘selfishness’ in terms of availability and intellectual

focus which family experience as being physically and mentally ‘away’ an awful lot and for key events. “Our conclusion after much consideration is that the goal of a more family-friendly professional life of purpose, challenge and impact is best pursued in another field.” Despite being dumped from cabinet, Mr Billson vowed to support the Turnbull government by “ensuring the talented new Ministerial team has maximum opportunity for ‘clear air’ and a sure-footed start”. He thanked his “sweetheart Kate, my children, the incredibly talented and committed staff I have had the good fortune to work with, the Liberal Party, my campaign team, supporters and all those whose advice, support and wise counsel has made possible my parliamentary career and the honour of representing the community in which I grew up.” “I have loved these days and make public this decision with no regret, remorse or bitterness.” Frankston mayor Cr James Dooley thanked Mr Billson for his work on behalf of the region in a statement issued by Frankston Council. “The Honourable Bruce Billson has served our community well for two decades, having done everything that he can for our community. This announcement is a great loss for council, as we will need to establish the same strong report and working relationship that we currently enjoy, with his successor. Whatever the Member for Dunkley chooses to do next, we have no doubt that he will succeed.” Cr Dooley said council is preparing a federal election lobbying plan, follow-

Highly visible: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, left, and retiring Dunkley Liberal MP Bruce Billson in Langwarrin last year. Picture: Yanni

ing its Speak Up For Frankston state election advocacy campaign last year, to “provide our city with an opportunity to highlight and escalate projects for our community”. Labor has preselected defence lawyer Peta Murphy as its candidate for Dunkley at the next federal election. The Liberal Party will now be forced

to undertake a preselection process to nominate a candidate to contest the seat. Mr Billson will stay on as Dunkley MP until writs are issued for the federal election, just under a fortnight before polling day. The next federal election must be held before or on 14 January 2017.

Busy callouts WILD weather last week saw crews from Volunteer Marine Rescue at Mornington and Hastings called out to several rescues. VMR spokesman Tim Warner said the Mornington crew was called out last Wednesday at 5pm to search for a man missing near Frankston pier “We launched the boat within 15 minutes of receiving the call from Water Police and arrived at the search area 15 minutes later,” he said. “Unfortunately, a short time after we arrived the Police Air Wing spotted the person who was deceased. Our thoughts go to the family, and all volunteers who attended.” Mr Warner said the crew returned to Mornington and received a call that a kite surfer was in trouble off Mt Martha. The crew arrived to find the wind had swung from north to west and the kite surfer had simply “run out of wind. A short time later the wind was up and the sailor shot back to the beach”. He said VMR volunteers had experienced a few late nights last week. “At 10pm on Tuesday evening, Mornington was called to assist a vessel off Patterson River that had run out of fuel. “Our Hastings crew has also been busy with a 10pm call to assist a vessel off Corinella with a damaged propeller as well as calls at 2.50am on Tuesday for a yacht aground off Hastings, at 10pm for a vessel with a failed water pump, at 9.30pm for a vessel with a flat battery, a 3pm for two kayaks stuck on a mud bank, and at 9.30am for a vessel that had lost oil pressure in its motor.” To report a person or vessel in trouble, call Water Police on 1800 135 729, 000 or VMR on 0419 233 999.

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