Prominent Labor MP and former resources minister Gary Gray has dropped another bombshell, announcing last night he will retire at the next federal election, meaning all three of Labor’s sitting members in the House of Representatives from Western Australia plan to quit this year.
The member for Brand advised his local electorate council that he felt it was time to move on and support renewal in the parliamentary party.
“I joined a union and the Australian Labor Party at the age of 16,” Mr Gray said in a statement.
“After 41 years of continuous membership, seven years as national secretary and nine years in the federal parliament, I am pleased to say it’s time for renewal and regeneration.”
The announcement comes just days after Perth MHR Alannah MacTiernan shocked observers by announcing she would retire.
That has sparked speculation of a possible return to state politics by the 63 year old.
Member for Fremantle Melissa Parke also plans to retire, not long after her marriage to former Peet managing director Warwick Hemsley.
The three retirements will add to the uphill electoral battle facing Labor leader Bill Shorten in WA.
Mr Gray’s move comes just three months after he fought off a pre-selection battle waged by left-wing blue collar unions, who were critical of his pro-business, pro-nuclear stance.
At the time, Mr Gray was highly critical of the Labor Party.
"I think the West Australian Labor Party, when it comes to the rights of its rank and file members and their ability to have their voice heard, is in the 19th century," he said.
In a statement issued last night, Mr Gray said his career highlights included being one of the youngest and longest serving national secretaries of the federal Labor Party, from 1993 to 2000.
After moving to Perth, he had a brief stint as executive director of the West Australian Institute for Medical Research before working for Woodside as director of corporate affairs from 2001 to 2007.
His parliamentary career included being appointed minister for resources and energy, tourism and small business in 2013.
In opposition, he has been the Labor’s spokesman for resources, state and northern Australia.
The Chamber of Minerals & Energy acknowledged the contribution of Mr Gray as a strong advocate for the resources sector.
It said he was a vocal critic of mooted changes to the diesel fuel rebate under the fuel tax credit scheme last year, which could have been detrimental to the industry.
Mr Gray also championed enterprise migration agreements in 2010 in order to facilitate project construction.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gary for his tireless work, both in government and in opposition, working to advance the causes of the resources sector," Mr Howard-Smith said.