February 11, 2016
“I came from a small farming district and went to a very small State School, and I had the privilege now to become Deputy Prime Minister of our country. I wonder whether I’ll be the last person with a limited education who comes from one of the poorest electorates in the country to become Deputy Prime Minister. I hope not.”
Deputy PM Warren Truss confirmed on Thursday what had been tipped for some time … he will not recontest the seat of Wide Bay at the next re-election.
The former Kingaroy Shire Chairman, raised on a navy bean farm near Kumbia, has had a distinguished career in Federal politics, serving as Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister; Customs and Consumer Affairs Minister; Transport and Regional Services Minister; and Trade Minister.
But he hopes he won’t be the last person with his background to make it in Canberra.
“I think we do need amongst the leadership of our country, a breadth of experience and skills,” he said during his speech to Parliament.
“In my early years, I was always talked about as the youngest national president of Rural Youth, the youngest councillor, youngest mayor. But now that I’m numbered amongst the oldest, I think it’s time to go.”
Mr Truss said that his greatest pleasures as an MP came when he was able to help someone with a small problem or to guide them through government bureaucracy.
He joked that when he became party leader in 2007 no one wanted the job – “including me” – but now everyone wants it.
The Nationals partyroom met on Thursday night to elect a new parliamentary leader, who will automatically become the next Deputy Prime Minister.
Deputy Leader Barnaby Joyce was elected Leader unopposed; and after a number of ballots, NSW Senator Fiona Nash was elected as the replacement Deputy Leader.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Mr Truss as a voice of wisdom, stability and generosity.
He said he had helped to shape the future of Australia and make it better.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten praised Mr Truss as a “kind and gentle soul”, a tireless worker for his electorate and a proud advocate for country people.
“You have earned a fulfilling, peaceful and healthy retirement with your loving wife,” he said.
History will mark Warren Truss as one of The Nationals’ greatest leaders, party Federal President Larry Anthony said on Thursday.
“Warren is the sixth longest federal leader of the party since the Country Party was formed in 1920. His extraordinary service in the House of Representatives to the people of Wide Bay since 1990 means he is the equal fourth longest serving member of today’s Parliament,” Mr Anthony said.
“He has been the ballast for the Coalition and a calming force is a sea of change. Since becoming leader in 2007, Warren’s proven leadership has worked as the steady hand with successive Liberal leaders.
“Politicians from all sides have learned to never underestimate Warren Truss. He has been a dependable and effective Deputy Prime Minister at the epicentre of government. He has been the quiet achiever delivering for regional Australia and the nation.
“As a Minister he has a record of achievement in agriculture, consumer affairs, trade, regional development, transport and infrastructure, with major progress made in selling our produce to the world, in branding Australian-made products and in building the roads and rail of the 21st century.
“Warren has never forgotten his roots and the major improvements along the Bruce Highway in Queensland are testament to this. His deep and abiding knowledge of aviation has informed improvements in safety and efficiency across that sector, and we are better placed in regional communications for his efforts.
“Warren was also crucial to the campaign to end Labor and the Green’s destructive Carbon Tax.
“Warren has been involved in public life since becoming a councillor on the Kingaroy Shire Council in 1976, the Shire’s Chairman in 1983 and then Federal Member for Wide Bay in 1990.
“Over 40 years, he has served the people of Kingaroy, Wide Bay, Queensland and Australia with dignity and decency, with a record of remarkable accomplishment.
“Unlike so many in politics, he has been able to decide the time of his own departure. This is even more remarkable given that, today, he is the longest serving Federal Leader of any political party … and by a long way.
“To Warren and his wife, Lyn, we wish them well on their return to their beloved Maryborough, safe in the knowledge that he has been one of the greats and that regional Australia is a better place to live and work because of his efforts.”