Scott Morrison has all but confirmed the worst-kept secret in politics – another former minister Craig Laundy is quitting politics.
The Liberal Party now faces the real threat of being unable to get a candidate formally endorsed before an election is called, likely to be shortly after the April 2 budget.
The Prime Minister was left to admit on Thursday that an announcement is imminent, after reports emerged that Mr Laundy, a former workplace relations minister, had told him in January he was unlikely to recontest.
That private discussion has since promoted a search for a high-profile candidate to try to retain the Western Sydney seat of Reid, which is being contested by Labor’s Sam Crosby.
But that also appeared to have fallen over amid confirmation that former NSW Deputy police commissioner Nick Kaldas had ruled out running for the Liberals.
“When I’m in a position to make announcements about that, I will,” Mr Morrison said.
Asked if he was looking to parachute in a “star candidate”:
“Same answer. Thanks very much,” Mr Morrison said.
A spokesman for Mr Laundy said an announcement on his future was imminent. If he quits, he will follow Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O’Dwyer, Steven Ciobo, Michael Keenan and Nigel Scullion out the door.
A staunch supporter of Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Laundy was the only MP to spend the night with the former prime minister after he resigned.
“It’s sad. It’s emotional. As someone who has been a staunch supporter, protector and friend, it’s bloody tough,” he said after the leadership coup.
Mr Laundy was also the only Liberal MP to sit with former colleague Julia Banks when she announced she would quit the party to sit as an independent.