Pyne’s new chapter after 26 Canberra years

Australia

No regret or bitterness, no could’ve beens or wannabes, but a new chapter for Christopher Pyne.

More than half of his life has been spent in federal parliament, and the 51-year-old rolled through some achievements as he announced his retirement on Saturday.

Establishing Headspace, the youth mental health network. Building submarines in Adelaide. Creating a national innovation strategy. Literacy and numeracy tests for teachers.

“I’ve certainly had a go,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Saturday.

The 26-year parliamentary veteran will leave at the May election and go into private industry, rather than chase the leadership of the Liberal party.

“There is a lot of could’ve beens in politics, and there is a lot of wannabes,” Mr Pyne said.

“Being leader of the party, that would have been a tremendous thing to do for the party and for the country, also for myself.

“(But) I think I’ve covered the whole gamut of opportunities that have been available to me and I’m very fortunate.”

Mr Pyne is close to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull but said the August leadership change did not affect his decision to quit.

“I started thinking about (it) in January when I was down at the beach … whether I wanted to keep going,” he said.

The defence minister’s departure leaves Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s front bench depleted just weeks out from the election being called, but Mr Pyne is confident the coalition can win the poll.

“People have got to retire some time,” he said.

“Being in politics is not a life sentence.”

Mr Pyne entered parliament in 1993, and shortly after told future prime minister John Howard it was time for him to move on. The Adelaide MP was subsequently banished to the backbench for almost a decade.

“I think I was a bit young at 25. At the time I thought I knew everything,” he said when recounting the episode.

“That led to some period in the freezer for me.”

His three children, aged 11 to 18, have all been born while he has been a politician and on the road regularly.

“I think it will take some getting used to, me being around most of the year. But I’m sure they’re looking forward to it. It begins a new chapter for all of us,” he said.

Mr Pyne said watching colleagues lose their seats before they were ready affected his choice.

“I’m not leaving with regret or bitterness, nor have I been forced out of office in some hideous scandal,” he said.

“I’m not going into the tomb, I intend to be around in politics, in South Australia in particular, for a long time to come.”

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