Former treasurer and deputy prime minister Wayne Swan will bow out of politics at the next election, after a career spanning decades as a Labor stalwart.
Mr Swan, 63, was first elected as member for Lilley, in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, in 1993, and served as treasurer under prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
He said he still loved the job, but it was time to make way for new talent.
“The inescapable fact is I am approaching the stage in life when it is not possible to be 110 per cent committed as a local MP and to meet all the other obligations that I have,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“In particular, making time for our new granddaughter, who is here today, our newest arrival, pursuing other passions, particularly liberating the debate about inequality and how we can make our economy and society fairer.
“And also just trying to live a normal life.”
He said he was most proud of his work as treasurer, staving off recession when the global financial crisis hit in 2008.
“What happened next in terms of our successful response to the financial crisis was defining for our nation, for our young government, and it was a career-defining moment for me personally — our policy was and is recognised as the best anywhere in the world,” Mr Swan said.
Former treasurer’s exit soured by sniping
Mr Swan said he would like to see a woman picked to replace him as Labor’s candidate for Lilley.
But the former treasurer’s exit has been soured by sniping over the past few months.
Some Labor MPs have anonymously criticised Mr Swan and suggested he should get out of politics to make room for fresh blood.
While praising his record, they argue his ongoing presence on the backbench has made it more difficult for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to distance himself from the chaotic years of the Rudd and Gillard governments.
Mr Shorten led the tributes to Mr Swan.
“From brash young adviser to party elder, proud local member to treasurer and deputy prime minister, Wayne Swan has always given the Labor cause and the lives of working people everything he has to give: every bit of his legendary work effort, every measure of his tremendous intellect, every ounce of his passion for a fairer Australia,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.
“His tenacity as a political warrior deserves a Springsteen quote: no retreat, no surrender.”
The Labor leader lauded Mr Swan for his work during the global financial crisis (GFC).
“Alongside Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, Wayne’s judgment, his skill, his belief in inclusive prosperity meant the Australian economy didn’t just weather the global storm, it actually grew,” Mr Shorten said.
“Businesses stayed open, Australians stayed in work, families stayed secure.”
Labor holds the seat of Lilley by a margin of just over 5 per cent.