Warren Entsch makes retirement decision as rumours explode
LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has made the shock decision to recontest his seat at the next election despite announcing plans to retire after this term of government.
Speculation about the political warhorse's future has been rife as leaders urge him to stay on in light of COVID-19.
He laboured over the decision for weeks before making his choice on Tuesday - coincidentally the 25th anniversary of his first election win in 1996.
"I had already been approached by the Prime Minister and the party and said no. But quite a number of people in the business community have put up compelling arguments that have made me reconsider," he said.
"They said when I made the announcement, COVID-19 wasn't even on the horizon. We're the first ones in and we're going to be the last ones out, and we can't afford a change."
Mr Entsch's nomination for preselection will be voted on by the LNP machinery on March 12.
It should be a formality for a veteran who has won eight elections and never lost - only missing the 2007 poll to spend time with his teenage son.
He had intended to use this retirement period to look after his 14-year-old daughter, provide "back-up" to wife Yolonde's social justice campaigns and delve into the global fight against tuberculosis. A trove of goat breeding gadgets will now also languish in a horse stable.
"I got a whole heaps of gifts for what was going to be my new venture on the farm - breeding goats, but it might have to wait another three years," he said.
An election date has not been set but September this year or April 2022 are most likely.
Mr Entsch said business leaders wanted an MP in government - something he could not guarantee despite sitting members being more likely to win.
"Even if someone new came in and won, it would take at least a year for them to get their feet under the desk," he said.
"It's a year the community can't afford to lose right now.
"I've already proven my ability to be able to influence, and it's not just me - it's my staff.
"The Office of Warren Entsch is not just Warren Entsch, it's the very committed, long-serving staff who do the majority of the constituent work."
The decision means Cairns regional councillor Brett Olds' federal aspirations are on hold for now, alongside Nicole Tobin and any others likely to throw their hats in the ring.
Labor is yet to announce its candidate, but former candidate Elida Faith is staking a claim.
Originally published as Warren Entsch makes retirement decision as rumours explode