Vaile calls it a day

20 Jul, 2008 06:36 PM
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Former Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile yesterday announced he was quitting politics, setting the stage for the third federal by-election since the November election.

The resignation puts pressure on Howard treasurer Peter Costello, the last one still in Parliament out of the top four in the previous government.

Former Prime Minister John Howard lost his seat in the election, and former Nationals leader Mr Vaile and former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer have signed off.

Mr Vaile's announcement prompted an immediate angry reaction from the Government.

Party strategist and former NSW general secretary Senator Mark Arbib said the Coalition was showing "absolute contempt" for taxpayers.

"If the Coalition MPs had all resigned at the same time, it would have saved taxpayers up to $1million," he said yesterday.

"This is looking like a bad joke."

Senator Arbib called on Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson to flush out other Coalition MPs who were considering quitting and tell them to do so "right now, and save us all the expense".

"Is Peter Costello staying or is he going?" he said. "Now is the time for him to put up or shut up."

Mr Costello could not be contacted yesterday. He has indicated he will make his future intentions known to coincide with the publication of his memoirs in October.

Byelections for Mr Downer's South Australian seat of Mayo and Mr Vaile's NSW seat of Lyne will most likely be held on the same day, probably in late August.

Dr Nelson avoided any reference to byelections in a tribute to a "dedicated and decent man" whom he described as one of Australia's greatest trade ministers.

Mr Vaile made the announcement that he wanted to spend more time with family and pursue business opportunities at a press conference in his NSW bush seat.

He came under intense heat earlier this year for privately consulting in Dubai for Sydney-based firm Servcorp, while still pulling a backbencher's salary of $128,000.

He defiantly said at the time that he would continue to engage in private business, regardless of the storm it caused.

Mr Vaile also said he had every intention of remaining in Parliament for the three-year term.

Yesterday he said the decision came after "a great deal of reflection following last year's federal election".

A melanoma cancer survivor, he said the spectre of recurrence was something all cancer sufferers had to live with and he was no different.

The one-time jackeroo, in Parliament for 15 years, ascended to the Nationals' leadership and the deputy prime ministership in 2005 following the resignation of John Anderson.

Current Nationals leader Warren Truss described Mr Vaile as a strong advocate for bush needs and a committed free-trade advocate.

The battle for Lyne could be hard fought if Labor, the Liberals and a mooted independent also enter the fight.

The byelection would be "another opportunity for people in regional Australia to send a clear message to Kevin Rudd and Morris Iemma that they are not happy about being left out of Labor's agenda," he said.

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READER COMMENTS

Ted
20/07/2008 9:00:44 PM

ALP Senator Mark Arbib has a short memory. He was NSW ALP General Secretary when Carr resigned mid-term, which triggered a string of Labor resignations. Together they cost the NSW taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars in By-election expenses.
Kevin Rude
21/07/2008 9:30:33 AM

This is a discrace and shows contempt for the Australian voters. Politicians of any party who leave parliament mid-term should be forced to pay for the full cost of the resulting By-election.

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Dunc is one of the best Ministers we have ever had… its hard not to like this excellent man
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I tend to think these top 20 are mythical .They never have names or faces .Where do they come
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Another report that will gather dust on the Coalition book shelves!!!!!!!!!! Time to get