Scott Morrison has lost his second cabinet minister in a week, with WA Liberal MP Michael Keenan announcing that he is quitting politics.
The Human Services Minister raised the pressures of raising a young family to explain his decision, just like Victorian Liberal Kelly O’Dwyer who has also pulled the pin.
Mr Keenan and his wife, Georgina, have four young boys all aged under 7.
“For me I just can’t continue to be an absent dad,” he told The West Australian.
“The sad reality is that Georgina has essentially been a single mother in terms of the time I get to spend at home and clearly that puts pressure on her.
“It is just about priorities; I still love the job, but it’s time.”
Mr Keenan has increased the margin in the electorate of Stirling from 2 per cent to 6 per cent over the last two decades. Now his departure will make it tougher for the government to hold the seat due to the loss of name recognition.
His resignation followed a shock new poll that suggests the blue ribbon Victorian seat of Higgins being vacated by Ms O’Dwyer could now be at risk.
The latest ReachTEL poll, released late on Friday, suggests Labor would win the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Higgins 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis.
The shock poll has the Liberal Party’s primary vote at 36.9 per cent, compared with 24.8 per cent for Labor, 17.7 per cent for the Greens, 8.4 per cent undecided, 7.1 per cent for “a minor party” and 5.1 per cent for “an independent”.
The seat was formerly held by Howard government Treasurer Peter Costello.
Speaking from Klosters, Switzerland, Finance Minister Matthias Cormann paid tribute to Mr Keenan’s contribution.
“He has been a highly effective law enforcement minister and continued to drive important reforms across our welfare administration as the Minister for Human Services,” he said of his fellow West Australian.
“Serving in the Federal Parliament at such a senior level from WA is tough on our families.
“Michael had no kids when he first got elected back in 2004. Today he and Georgina have four beautiful boys.
“We are sad to see him go, but entirely understand and respect the reasons for his decision.”
Earlier this week, Mr Morrison said he did not expect a mass exodus of MPs after Ms O’Dwyer announced she would quit politics at the next election.
The Prime Minister was also less than emphatic when saying that he expects Julie Bishop to stay on, despite her public statement that it is “her intention” to run again.
“That’s what she said, that’s what her public statement is and that’s a matter for Julie,” he said.
“I would love Julie to continue to remain, but if she wants to do something else that’s up to her.
“But she’s been very consistent in saying she intends to run at the next election and good for her.”