Luke Hartsuyker, the member for Cowper which covers the whole of the Coffs Coast, this morning announced his retirement from federal politics.
by Peter Daniels
The member for Cowper (pictured) has spent 17 years representing the electorate and says his decision to retire was ‘not easy’.
“It was not an easy decision to come too,” he said. “I certainly spoke with my family about the decision but also with the prime minister and the deputy PM along with some, but not all, of my colleagues.
“It is really hard to put into words the feeling of taking your place in your seat in the federal parliament for the first time.
“But it has been a privilege to represent the electorate of Cowper which is a powerhouse of growth on the North Coast.”
He nominated the creation of employment opportunities, the duplication of the Pacific Highway and upgraded rail connectivity, serving in the ministry and helping individual constituents as his greatest achievements.
Mr Hartsuyker also pointed to meeting the challenges that increased growth brings to an electorate as key issues he had addressed.
“There is now better road connectivity between Sydney and Brisbane, the introduction of the NBN and an upgraded rail system have all helped in meeting those challenges,” he added.
He said there were now greater employment opportunities for Cowper than when he was first elected.
His announcement follows some intense media speculation surrounding his future, and follows disastrous results for the Coalition government in the July 28 Super Saturday by-elections.
Mr Hartsuyker spent five years in the ministry where he served in employment and vocational services’ portfolios.
While “everyone would love to spend more time in the executive”, Mr Hartsuyker said he was blessed to be able to deliver policy change as a minister. It is a huge honour to implement change.
He represented Australia at the G20 economic summit working with government from around the world on addressing employment issues.
He also led delegations to Indonesia and India to improve market access for Australian producers.
“In turn, this has led to improvements in our export opportunities and, by extension, the creation of local jobs,” he added.
While he enjoyed his time on the world stage, Mr Hartsuyker said he also enjoyed assisting constituents on a range of matters.
“As the local member, you also get to help many individuals with their issues.
“Some of these are confidential and private matters but they are still examples of what a local member should do.
“I would like to thank the people of Cowper for their support over many years.
“There were concerns when the new boundaries were drawn up as to how it would be to represent both Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.
“But it has been fantastic to have two growth centres in the electorate.
“I have enjoyed having Port Macquarie as part of the electorate. It is a dynamic and growing economy and a dynamic area to be involved in.”
He also praised the great range of community and business groups he has worked with over the years.
“There are a number of businesses that are doing great things around the world from the Cowper electorate.
“Businesses such as Bale Defence Industry, Cassegrain Winery, Expressway Spares – to name only a few.”
Mr Hartsuyker will remain as the member for Cowper until the next election. He said The Nationals party will “go through the process of selecting a candidate to contest the next election”.
“It was important for me to complete the full term I was elected to serve.
“The Nationals will open up pre-selection for Cowper and I am confident there will be a strong field of candidates to choose from.
“It would be the kiss of death for a sitting member to anoint a successor,” he added.
The next federal election will be held by May 2019.
The Greens have nominated Dr Sally Townley as their candidate while the Labor Party has selected Andrew Woodward as its candidate.
Another possible candidate is the former member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott who contested the 2016 election for Cowper. He is yet to publicly commit to standing for election.
First published at The Nambucca Gazette, Wednesday 8 August 2018.