Following a Labor Party shakeup today that ousted Australia’s first female prime minister, former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett has announced he is leaving government, as he resigns his position as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth and won’t seek re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives.
In a statement posted on his website, Garrett — who was first elected in 2004 and served as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts from 2007 to 2010 before becoming education minister — said: “I was a frontman who chose to be a team player and make a difference in politics. I do not, for one moment, regret that choice.”
According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was ousted as Labor leader by Kevin Rudd, her predecessor; Rudd is now poised to once again become prime minister. With Gillard’s defeat, the senior ministers who backed her, including Garrett, stepped down. Under Rudd, Garrett had been demoted over a “bungled home-insulation scheme.”
Garrett quit Midnight Oil in 2002 and has since performed with the band only a handful of times at charity events, most recently last year for the Sound Relief brushfire concerts. Three of his former bandmates — drummer Rob Hirst and guitarists Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey — recently joined ex-Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie to form The Break, a mostly instrumental surf-rock combo.
Read Garrett’s full statement:
Statement from Peter Garrett
26 June 2013
Now that Kevin Rudd has been elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, I am resigning my position as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth and will not recontest the upcoming election as Member for Kingsford Smith.
I believe I have always acted in the best interests of the Party and the Government. I was a frontman who chose to be a team player and make a difference in politics. I do not, for one moment, regret that choice.
I want to place on record my thanks to colleagues, staff and the community for their enduring support. To my wife Doris and daughters Emily, May and Grace a huge thanks for their support too, and the love they have given me since I entered Parliament in 2004.
At all times I have endeavoured to represent the people of Kingsford Smith faithfully and in particular, to have secured the protection of Malabar Headland for the people of NSW.
It has been a privilege to serve as a loyal Cabinet Minister for nearly six years, having participated in a number of crucial reforms that only Labor Governments can achieve.
I am especially proud to have had stewardship of the most significant education reforms we have witnessed in Australia, like the national curriculum, first national teaching standards and much needed investment for literacy and numeracy and indigenous education.
This culminated in the passage into law today of the Australian Education Bill.
We now have a new, fairer funding system based on the Gonski review which will ensure the needs of young Australians are met regardless of where they live or how much money their parents earn.
I pay tribute to Julia Gillard for having the foresight, courage and tenacity to drive these reforms, that will give thousands of young Australians a better future.
I am also proud to have committed our government to a world class system of marine parks, placed the Kimberley region on our National Heritage list, introduced the first e-waste recycling scheme and ensured resale royalties for Australian artists, including Indigenous artists.
These along with a host of other significant actions across many portfolios, have been the mark of a truly reforming Labor Government.
I wish the government well.
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS:
- Midnight Oil’s ‘Essential Oils’ 2CD best-of set to receive U.S. release next month
- Midnight Oil preps career-spanning 2CD ‘Essential Oils’ compilation for fall release
- Midnight Oil puts career-spanning box set ‘back on hold’ until ‘better time’ for release
- Midnight Oil prepping career-spanning box set with ‘unseen and unheard film and music’
- Vintage Video: Watch Midnight Oil’s complete ‘Oils on the Water’ concert from 1985