Federal Labor Member for Perth Tim Hammond has announced he is resigning from Parliament, triggering a byelection in one of Western Australia’s highest-profile seats, saying he cannot be a federal politician and a good father to his three children under six.
Mr Hammond said the toll the job was taking on his family was too great.
“I guess I’d reached the point, after more soul-searching than I can describe this morning, that it just wasn’t working,” he said.
“It wasn’t working in relation to how present I needed to be at home, as a dad to three wonderful little children.
“I have a six-year-old girl, a two-and-a-half-year-old girl and now a six-month old boy. The six-month-old was an unexpected but wonderful blessing that wasn’t on the cards when I was elected two years ago.
My wife and I had tried everything under the sun to make this work in a way that I felt it wasn’t compromising my ability just to be the best dad that I could be.
“The reality is that I thought I had an appreciation of how to manage my duties as a federal Member of Parliament in a way that did not have such an impact on my family. I got that wrong.
“I just did not anticipate the profound effect my absence would have on all of us.”
Speaking in an at-times emotional interview, Mr Hammond said the Labor Party had been “fantastic” to him and many people would be surprised at his decision because he had sought to be an MP for many years.
Byelection to test Labor’s popularity in WA
He confirmed that his resignation would take effect in the near future, meaning the voters of Perth would face a byelection before the next federal poll scheduled for 2019.
“There are, of course, obligations I need to discharge to my electorate, to my staff and to the people of Perth. I expect this will take a relatively short period of time, enabling me to resign in the very near future,” he said in a statement.
“I regret – so very much – that a byelection will be an inconvenience for my local community.
“However I know Labor will present a strong candidate to continue representing Perth – fighting for good jobs, better schools and hospitals, and a fair share for WA.
“I wish Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and their wonderful Labor team every success.”
Labor Leader Mr Shorten released a statement thanking Mr Hammond for his service and saying he understood the reasons for his decision.
“After two years of travel and a lot of time spent on the opposite side of the country, Tim has decided to put his family first,” Mr Shorten said.
“As a colleague and a friend, I’m disappointed he won’t be part of our next Caucus but as a husband and a father, I’m glad he’ll be with the people he cares about most in this world.”
The 43-year-old is part of Mr Shorten’s frontbench, having served as the opposition spokesman for consumer affairs and as an assistant spokesman in a number of portfolios including resources and innovation.
He has also been the ALP’s senior vice-president since 2015.
Mr Hammond was elected to the House of Representatives in the WA seat of Perth in 2016.
The seat, which is a safe Labor electorate, was held by long-time Labor MP Stephen Smith for 20 years until his retirement at the 2013 election.
It was then held by current WA Regional Development, Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan during a three-year stint in federal politics, before she returned to state politics.
Well wishes from friends, rivals
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann issued a statement saying he was sad to hear the news his fellow West Australian MP would be stepping down.
“While we are political competitors, we are also friends and colleagues involved in the same profession, focused on making a positive difference to our community and to our country,” he said.
“Tim is a very decent, highly capable individual with a bright future in whatever he decides to do next.
“Public service as a federal politician from WA is tough on our families. There is no question about that.”
Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said Mr Hammond had made an enormous political sacrifice.
“Tim had the capacity and potential to rise in time to be at the very top of Australian politics. His decision to walk away and put his family first is a testament to him,” he said.
His WA colleague, Member for Burt Matt Keogh, said the fly-in fly-out (FIFO) lifestyle of MPs from WA was very hard on families.
“Tim is also one of a group of newer MPs, like me, balancing the FIFO life of a Federal MP with having a young family. This is especially hard from WA. It is even harder on our spouses.”