THERE’LL be a new representative for 44 per cent of the state’s landmass in 2019 after Nationals MP Kevin Humphries announced he won’t be recontesting Barwon.
The Far West MP called time on what will be a 12 year-political career via press release at 4pm Thursday.
He says he will stay on for 18 months, giving the next candidate a chance to carve an identity, before handing over the reins.
It remains to be seen who the Nationals will replace Mr Humphries with in the 356,000 square-kilometre seat.
“It continues to be a privilege to represent such a vast and diverse electorate,” Mr Humphries said this afternoon.
“Over the next year and a half I am looking forward to a number of new key announcements which continues the rebuild and reforms that have been enacted.
“The state is in good hands politically and now in an excellent financial position to inject further funds that will see the investment in our communities that they deserve.”
Whoever takes on Mr Humphries’ seat faces a range of political challenges, including navigating the mining and coal-seam gas debate, ensuring a smooth roll out of native vegetation reforms, addressing rural crime issues, fixing bush roads and telecommunications – and guiding the future of councils and the Far West Initiative.
Mr Humphries, a father-of-three and former teacher, was elected to Macquarie Street in 2007, replacing the retiring MP Ian Slack-Smith.
Mr Humpries was Minister for Western NSW from April 2011 to April 2015.
During that time had stints as the Minister for Healthy Lifestyles and Mental Health, and Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water.
He was dropped from Mike Baird’s cabinet after the Coalition’s 2015 election win, where he won Barwon with 62.9 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
Mr Humphries’ scheduled exit from politics folllows the retirement of fellow Nat and former minister Duncan Gay last month.
“I was afforded an extended period of time as the Nationals candidate in the lead up to the 2007 election and I want to pass that same opportunity on to the next candidate for the Nationals,” Mr Humphries said.
“Continuity is always a challenge in politics and getting to know the network and vast array of issues is the key if you are to be an effective political representative. If you can hit the ground running it is a great advantage for the candidate and the electorate.”
Last year Mr Humphries was one of three rebel Nationals MPs who voted against the Greyhound racing ban, with the remaining 69 Coalition MPs to be dragged into line with his stance a few months later.
In the meantime Mr Humphries said it will be business as usual and he is looking forward to the coming budget announcements.
“My wife Linda and I have worked hard to raise the issues and profile of the Barwon Electorate in Macquarie Street and beyond. We will continue the support and advocacy within the electorate in the lead up to the next election,”
NSW Nationals Party Chairman, Bede Burke thanked Mr Humphries for his commitment to the people of Far-Western NSW.
“I have known him for a lifetime,” Mr Burke said.
“We were in the same class together at Christian Brothers College and McCarthy College in Tamworth over 40 years ago!”