Australian minister Kelly O'Dwyer to quit politics before poll

Australia's Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer will step down to spend more time with her young children.
Australia's Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer will step down to spend more time with her young children.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ KELLY O'DWYER

MELBOURNE (BLOOMBERG) - Australia's Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O'Dwyer will quit politics after about a decade as a lawmaker, a blow to Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of a national election that's expected by May.

O'Dwyer, 41, will step down to spend more time with her young children, and as she hopes to have another child, potentially during the next parliamentary session, she told reporters on Saturday, speaking alongside Morrison in Melbourne. The minister will will step down at the country's forthcoming election.

Morrison is "someone who I am absolutely confident will lead our government to victory in May", said O'Dwyer, a mother of two. "I need to be honest about the fact that I can't commit to another three years."

The former bank executive and lawyer, who also holds a post as minister for women, was elected in 2009 and appointed to Cabinet in 2015. Morrison's Liberal-National coalition was trounced in a state ballot in November in Victoria, the capitol of which is Melbourne.

O'Dwyer had shown "detailed knowledge and expertise on economic management" while serving in government, according to Morrison, who said he backed her decision.

Morrison is entering a critical period ahead of a national election and is attempting to revive the fortunes of his Liberal-National coalition government. His coalition lags the main opposition Labor Party by 10 percentage points, according to the most recent Newspoll in December.

Should that margin be be replicated at the ballot box, the coalition would lose about 20 seats in Parliament and Labor's leader Bill Shorten would take office.

O'Dwyer, a former executive with National Australia Bank, previously served in roles including as minister for revenue and financial services. In April 2017, she became the first serving Cabinet minister to give birth while in office.