The 25th President of the Senate and Victorian Liberal Scott Ryan has brought forward plans to step down, citing COVID uncertainties as a need find a replacement before Christmas.
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Senator Ryan said he had informed colleagues that he intended to resign as a parliamentary presiding officer and Senator for Victoria before the scheduled resumption of Federal Parliament on October 18.
The announcement creates a casual Senate vacancy for the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party which will be fiercely contested, while he is widely tipped for a Federal Government appointed posting.
Saying it has been a "privilege" to serve, the widely-liked senator and former Special Minister of State said he was giving "extensive notice" to find a replacement, given the current requirements regarding travel to and from Canberra.
Many parliamentarians attended the last August-September sitting fortnight remotely via video-link due to COVID lockdown requirements, but senators who want to vote for a new President will have travel to the ACT and quarantine for a fortnight.
Senator Ryan's announcement brings forward his retirement from politics by nine months. In March last year he said he would not seek another term at the next poll and his current Senate term expires June 30 next year.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith, announced in July he would also not contest the next election.
Senator Ryan thanked colleagues, staff and parliamentary officials.
"I would like to especially acknowledge the effort and understanding of all senator and staff, working within the challenge posed by various restrictions that has ensured that the Senate and its committees could continue to undertake work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," he said in a statement.
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"A specific thanks to the officials and staff of the Senate, led by Clerk Richard Pye, who support the work of myself and all senator in fulfilling our duties. They are the custodians of the Senate that we temporarily occupy as elected representatives."
Senator Ryan had moved, during the pandemic, from Melbourne to Canberra with his family.
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