Assembly shock: Coe calls it a day on politics

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Alistair Coe election 2020
Former Liberal leader Alistair Coe… leaving the Assembly after 12 years. Photo: Holly Treadaway

ALISTAIR Coe is famously quoted as saying that no-one goes into politics to be in opposition.

And after 12 years on the opposition benches, the former Liberal leader and shadow treasurer this morning (January 23) announced his resignation from the ACT Legislative Assembly.

His statement suggests he has nothing planned once he leaves politics in March.

A popular and diligent local member, he has represented Ginninderra and Yerrabi since 2008.

Coe, a seasoned and experienced campaigner, led the Canberra Liberals to a disappointing result at the last election in October. There was a lot of criticism of the style and messaging of his campaign.

His resignation may clear the way for James Milligan to return to politics on a countback after losing his seat at the last election.

Vanquished Coe accepted from new leader Elizabeth Lee the senior shadow roles of  treasurer, planning and land management, and sustainable building and construction. His departure will provide a challenge for Lee to replace his talents.

“In the weeks since the 2020 election, I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate my future. I am proud of what I have achieved and my commitment to the ACT over the past 12 years,” he said in a prepared statement this morning.

“Whilst I am not sure what the future has in store for me, my passion for Canberra and the Liberals remains strong.

“I am very grateful to [wife] Yasmin, [and children] Angus and Annabel for the sacrifices they have made to support me on this journey.

“I have served with wonderful colleagues in the Assembly and I am optimistic about the future of the Canberra Liberals under the leadership of Elizabeth Lee and Giulia Jones. I am also very appreciative to the president of the Canberra Liberals, John Cziesla, the director, Josh Manuatu, and the entire party for their ongoing endorsement and support.”

He thanked the electors of Ginninderra and Yerrabi for choosing his as their local member for the past 12 years.

“I will leave the Assembly after the Estimates hearings allowing time for the casual vacancy to be filled before the March sitting of the Assembly,” he said.

Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee thanked Coe for his service to the community.

“He has been a formidable member of the Legislative Assembly for the past 12 years and a loyal member of the Liberal Party for the past 20 years,” she said.

“Alistair has been a steadfast advocate for those in our community who are being left behind; vulnerable Canberrans, the working poor, and Canberrans struggling to afford their own home.

“Alistair has also been a great friend to our multicultural and faith communities, with a long history of outreach, advocacy and representation on their behalf.

“It has been my pleasure to work with Alistair. I have learnt much from his leadership and he will be sorely missed – not only as an outstanding local member but as a colleague, confidante and friend. Canberra is richer for his service to our great city. I have no doubts that his contributions to Canberra and the Liberal Party will continue beyond his life in the Assembly.”

Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury also paid tribute to Coe saying: “While we often disagreed heartily about issues, Alistair represented his beliefs and his constituency in a genuine and heartfelt manner.

“Alistair also worked hard to engage the multicultural community in ACT politics – an important contribution to making Canberra a more inclusive city, and work that will strengthen our democracy.

“Having worked with Alistair on a number of committees and pieces of legislation over the years, I have always appreciated both his attention to detail and a willingness to find a way through contested discussions – something important in politics when you are trying to get the best outcomes for the community.

“Being elected as a representative of our community is a privilege and a large responsibility that requires great deal of time, work and dedication. On behalf of the ACT Greens, we wish Mr Coe and his family the best as he closes this chapter.”

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  1. A dreadful and amateurish campaign led to an election result that saw voters turn away from both Labor and Liberal parties. The “debate” between Barr and Coe just highlighted how unprepared he was for winning despite the massive vulnerabilities offered by a 20 year incumbent party.

    Politics is a hard, cruel game and not a career path to be taken lightly.

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