3rd minister quits in pre election blow to Aussie PM


SYDNEY • A third senior Australian government lawmaker announced he is quitting politics, in a further blow to Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison ahead of elections expected in May.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, 62, who has served in the upper house Senate for 17 years, said in a statement he won’t stand for re-election, the Australian Broadcasting Corp reported on Saturday.

The announcement came hours after Human Services Minister Michael Keenan, 46, said that after 15 years in Parliament, he couldn’t commit to another term. The father of four cited the “formidable” pressures of family life for his decision.

Last week, Minister for Jobs Kelly O’Dwyer, 41, said she would also step down to spend more time with her two young children.

Morrison is entering a critical period ahead of the election and is attempting to revive the fortunes of his Liberal-National government.

His coalition lags the main Opposit ion Labor Party by 10 percentage points, according to the most recent Newspoll in December. Should that margin be replicated at the ballot box, the coalition would lose about 20 seats in Parliament and Labor Party leader Bill Shorten would take office.

Keenan holds the electorate of Stirling in Western Australia by a margin of 6.1%, and losing the incumbent may make it more difficult for the government to hold the seat at the election. — Bloomberg