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Vaile steps down from politics.

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Federal Member for Lyne




Vaile steps down from Politics

It is after a great deal of reflection following last year's Federal Election, I announce today that I will be stepping down as the Federal Member for Lyne after more than 15 years representing this area in the Parliament of Australia which followed 8 years representing much of the electorate in Local Government.

My announcement comes as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Hon Harry Jenkins, considers a date for the Mayo by-election and I understand that by providing him with this advice before he does so, it will allow him to call a by-election for Lyne on the same day.

Wendy and I have lived in this area all of our lives. Having grown up here, I have seen a great deal of change as a school boy, as a jackeroo, as a small businessman, as the local Deputy Mayor and ultimately as the Federal Member and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia representing the area that I know and love so much.

Firstly, I'd like to say that I could not have achieved any of the things I have for our electorate or Australia without the love, support and ongoing commitment of my wife Wendy and our three daughters Terri, Prue and Sarah. They have been there every step of the way supporting me in undertaking the demanding roles that I have over the past 24 years in public life.

I'd also like to thank most sincerely my electorate staff. Without their loyalty and dedication, I could not have done my job as effectively as I have.

Through all my years in public life, this community has put its faith in me and I have very much appreciated their considerable endorsement at each and every election. I have always taken on that responsibility very seriously and I have pursued many local issues and made representations on behalf of literally thousands of my constituents throughout my years as Member for Lyne.

Locally, we have achieved an enormous amount together. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent upgrading the Pacific Highway through our electorate, more than 2,000 local jobs have been created as a result of Federal Government programs or government agencies moving to our area and

through the Coalition's term in office there have been a range of programs put in place that delivered direct funding to local roads, higher education facilities, vocational education facilities, environmental programs, local schools and the health and aged care sector.

I have always said it's the greatest honour to have been elected as the Member for Lyne and would have been proud to have served only in that capacity for my entire parliamentary career. However, I have been uniquely fortunate and greatly honoured to take up the challenge that leadership positions in Government have offered.

My promotion to the Cabinet in 1997 and subsequently serving in three key portfolio areas of Transport, Agriculture and Trade gave me an opportunity to not only gain a greater understanding of the issues confronting our nation but also be able to respond to those issues both nationally and

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globally with a suite of policies that changed our traditional positions and elevated Australia's global

influence. In this context, I appreciated the support the Prime Minister and Cabinet gave me, particularly in the area of Trade policy.

As Trade Minister, I was proud of the policy work we did particularly in DFAT at both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Our exporters have been big beneficiaries of these policies. Our work to secure Free Trade Agreements with Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Chile and launching negotiations with ASEAN, Malaysia, China and Japan are all outstanding policy

achievements which I am honoured to be part of.

Some of the proudest moments as Trade Minister were experienced leading the Australian delegation at the WTO Ministerial Meetings in Seattle, Doha, Cancun and Hong Kong where we positioned Australia in a key leadership role.

In Transport & Regional Services, the $24 billion Auslink 2 land transport package, the $3.1-billion Regional Telecommunications Fund, and programs like Growing Regions were all significant achievements.

In the years I have served in the Federal Parliament, I have also enjoyed many great debates and have forged very close friendships with many of my colleagues on both sides of politics. The Australian Parliament is a great democratic institution that we all should cherish. All who serve there do so with an absolute focus on the national interest.

There have been many highs and many lows during the past 15 years.

One great personal challenge was my brush with cancer two years ago, after a diagnosis of an aggressive melanoma I had to undergo immediate surgery to remove both the melanoma and a series of lymph nodes. This was a time of personal stress and emotion for myself and the family and at the time it caused a short absence from the Parliament, although the treatment has been successful the spectre of recurrence is something that all cancer survivors have to live with. Wendy and I are no different.

The National party is a great political movement, truly a great party. It is one of the finest institutions in our nation. In its 85 year history, it has provided a strong voice for the people of regional Australia in Federal and State Parliaments, and in Government, a voice at the Cabinet table. I shank Warren Truss and all of my National Party colleagues for their support and wise council over the years both in the Parliament and in the organisation and I wish them all the best for the future.

As the sun sets in this chapter of my life, another begins. Wendy and the girls have accepted my public life intruding into theirs for the past 24 years, now it's their turn to have some time, not to mention our grandsons Jackson and Charlie.

While spending more time with the family, I will take the opportunity to continue our community and charity work in our local area and at a national level, and in the future, I also intend pursuing interests in the private sector.

Ends... 19/7/2008