MEMBER for Lowan Hugh Delahunty has announced his retirement.
“Yesterday I informed the Nationals Lowan Electorate District Council that I will not be re-contesting the seat of Lowan in the 2014 Victorian State Election,” he said.
“After about 25 years in public life, I believe it is time I spent more time with my family and assisting and supporting my seven wonderful grandchildren, re-connecting with friends, playing golf and travelling.”
Staff at his Horsham and Melbourne offices were advised on Friday.
The news comes almost a month after Mr Delahunty refuted reports he was considering retiring.
A story claiming three National Party frontbenchers, including Mr Delahunty, would not contest their seats at the November election appeared on the front page of The Weekly Times on January 15.
Ministers Jeanette Powell, 64, and Peter Hall, 61, were also reportedly due to announce their retirement within weeks.
Ms Powell announced her retirement on Friday.
When the story broke, Mr Delahunty told the Mail-Times he had no intention of retiring.
“I have tried to keep myself fit and healthy, and while I am fit and healthy I want to continue,” he said.
On Sunday he said he had been considering retirement for the past six months, but he had not decided whether to follow through with it when the news broke in January.
“I needed to talk to a lot of people, including family, staff, colleagues and obviously the Premier,” he said.
“Those things hadn’t happened at that stage. Now I have completed all those things and thoroughly analysed if I want to continue on.”
Mr Delahunty said age was the biggest factor in his decision.
“I’ll be 65 at end of June, so if I put in for another four years, I will be nearly 70 before I retire,” he said.
“I don’t think my health would stay at the level I need it to.
“I don’t like performing at a sub-optimal level and I was fearful I couldn’t continue at my usual pace. It’s best for the people, but most importantly, best for me.”
He thanked his wife Judie and his family for their support, and his staff for their service.
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve and represent the people of western Victoria in the State Parliament,” he said.
“I thank them for their support and confidence in me during the past 14 years.”
Despite his impending retirement, Mr Delahunty promised to work hard in the lead-up to the November state election.
“Premier Denis Napthine and Nationals leader Peter Ryan have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to build a better Victoria and I will support them, my electorate and the new Nationals candidate leading up to election day.”
Mr Delahunty was first elected to the Victorian Parliament in 1999.
He is Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Veterans Affairs.
He started public life as a Horsham Rural City councillor, and was previously Horsham Mayor and Chairman of Commissioners at Mildura Rural City.
Commissioners replaced municipal councils in Victoria in 1995 as part of a local government shake-up.
Victorian Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Peter Ryan congratulated Mr Delahunty on his service to the state, especially the communities of western Victoria.
“Hugh has relished his ministerial role in the Coalition Government and has been a tremendous advocate for veterans’ affairs and all forms of sport in our great state,” he said.
Nominations for pre-selections for the seat of Lowan will open on Friday.