Greg Hunt to step down at next election

Health Minister Greg Hunt has told parliament he will resign from politics at the next election.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has told parliament he will resign from politics at the next election.

He helped steer the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, and was at one point labelled as the best minister in the world.

But after a 20-year career in federal politics, Greg Hunt has announced he will step down from parliament at the next election.

One of the longest-serving cabinet members during the coalition's eight years in office, the health minister said he would not recontest his Victorian seat of Flinders.

Mr Hunt said he will stay on in his role as health minister until the next election, which is due to be held by May next year.

"I'm so proud of this government, this parliament, and this nation, and all the things that have been done to save lives and protect lives," he said.

Mr Hunt paid tribute to his family, including his two children.

"(My children) said to me, 'Dad, this is your last chance to be a proper dad, and it's time to come home'," he said.

Mr Hunt, who has been the longest-serving member for the electorate of Flinders, said he wanted to see a female Liberal candidate run in the seat as his successor.

It is speculated Zoe McKenzie, an NBN non-executive director and experienced commercial business adviser, will replace him.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to Mr Hunt, saying parliament would be at a loss.

"You want a health minister who has a big brain and a big heart, and I have had the great fortune to have a person who has excelled in those attributes," Mr Morrison said.

"I am obviously very sad to be losing an incredibly great member of my team."

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also praised Mr Hunt in parliament.

"Two decades in parliamentary life is a significant achievement, being a senior minister in a range of portfolios is something that you can be proud of," he said.

As health minister, Mr Hunt was one of the leading figures in Australia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 56-year-old father of two was first elected to parliament in 2001, after a prior stint in law and working as an advisor to former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

The Victorian MP was brought into the outer ministry in his second term in parliament, serving as a parliamentary secretary to the then-environment minister and later foreign minister.

After the coalition lost power in 2007, Mr Hunt became the Liberals' environmental spokesman and went on to take the role of environment minister in the Abbott government.

It was in this role that he was one of the pivotal architects behind the coalition's repeal of the carbon tax.

Despite that, Mr Hunt publicly listed on his website his major achievements as environment minister as setting up Australia's emissions reduction fund and developing a 2050 long-term sustainability plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

It was in part for his role on the latter he was awarded the title of 'best minister in the world' in 2016 at the World Government Summit, the first time the title was bestowed.

Following an expenses scandal in 2017 involving Sussan Ley, Mr Hunt took over the role as health minister, a position he has held since.

He is one of only three Liberal MPs to have served in the cabinet since the coalition came to office in 2013.

Mr Hunt said there remained more to do in the months leading up to the election.

"There's a country to protect, medicines to list, a budget to prepare, an election to win," he said.

"But when all of that is done, it will be time to come home."

Australian Associated Press