Former small business minister Bruce Billson is retiring from politics and will not contest the next federal election.
Billson told his parliamentary colleagues this morning he would not seek an eighth term as the member for the Victorian seat of Dunkley after two decades in public life.
In a statement, Billson said he is retiring from politics because it is no longer possible for him to “fully do what I love”.
Billson was dropped from the small business portfolio in September as a result of Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle and is currently a backbencher.
SmartCompany understands Billson was devastated by the demotion, which sent “a shockwave” through the small business community.
“I am committed to doing all I can to support the Turnbull government and to ensuring the talented new ministerial team has maximum opportunity for ‘clear air’ and a sure-footed start,” Billson said.
“Doing this means curtailing my disposition to seek to lead, strongly advocate and implement policy initiatives and reform ideas. Our conclusion after much consideration is that the goal of a more family-friendly professional life of purpose, challenge and impact is best pursued in another field.
“I have loved these days and make public this decision with no regret, remorse or bitterness.”
Optimistic for Turnbull Gov’s election 2016 prospects & Dunkley, but I’ll be hanging up my RM campaign boots: https://t.co/MiWMofHB65
— Bruce Billson (@BruceBillsonMP) November 23, 2015
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany small businesses will miss Billson.
“This is a great loss for the small business community,” Strong says.
“We wish Bruce everything he wishes for in the future. He has given so much for the community.”
Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer wished Billson well this morning on Twitter, writing that her predecessor will be “greatly missed”.
“You are a true friend and can be proud of your many achievements,” O’Dwyer tweeted.