Labor Senator Stephen Conroy has announced his intention to retire from politics.
The sometimes unorthodox Labor senator used an obscure process to camouflage the announcement his impending retirement.
He made the announcement in unusual fashion, tabling a speech in the Senate last night.
He is set to depart on September 30.
His speech, which was tabled but not read, stated that it was “time to say farewell”.
“You should always go out on top,” it states.
“… It has been a great privilege to serve as a Senator for Victoria, as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate and as a Cabinet Minister in two Labor governments. It is also a great responsibility.”
Senator Conroy tabled the speech around 9pm, telling the chamber “as it is very late, I seek leave to table the rest of my contribution so we can move on”.
The speech singles out former prime minister Julia Gillard, as well as Wayne Swan, Jenny Macklin and Tanya Plibersek.
“No-one can survive 20 years in the Federal Parliament without a genuine group of friends,” he said.
“It’s no different in my case. I have had the privilege of serving with and being friends with a group of passionate and dedicated Labor icons.”
Senator Conroy also marked the pressure of the job, citing “glances and scowls as you walk down the street” in addition to media coverage.
He also noted the need to spend time with his family.
“When you resent being in Canberra because you are missing your daughter’s soccer training it is time to retire from the Federal Parliament,” he said.
Since entering politics in 1996, Senator Conroy has served as minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy and minister assisting the prime minister on digital productivity.
He has also served in a number of shadow ministries, including defence, sport, trade and finance.
Retirement news catches Plibersek by surprise
The news caught Ms Plibersek by surprise — the Acting Opposition Leader was holding a media conference when the speech was made public.
She said she had only just been made aware of the news and would speak to Senator Conroy later today.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese would not be drawn on whether he knew of Senator Conroy’s announcement or whether Ms Plibersek should have been made aware.
Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra that “frankly, it’s none of your business”.
“I think it’s really important that people be treated with respect,” he said.
“Stephen Conroy has always treated the party with respect, he’s treated the Parliament with respect by informing the Parliament.”
Mr Albanese said there was “absolutely” no bad blood in Labor that may have contributed to Senator Conroy’s decision.