Eric Abetz to leave parliament after failing to secure enough votes

Abetz

Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz appears to have reached the end of his political career. With the senate votes in Tasmania counted the final seat was awarded to Tammy Tyrell from the Jaquie Lambert Network.

Senator Abetz was bumped down to the third spot on the Liberal’s senate ticket despite him having serving in the parliament for 28 years. The low ranking saw him unsuccessfully battling to retain his position.

In a statement the outgoing Senator said, although he was not being returned, without him the successful Liberal candidates would not have faired so well.

“Senate voting is overwhelmingly seen by Tasmanians as a party vote with the vast majority of Tasmanians opting to vote for parties above the line as opposed to individual candidates below the line,” Abetz said.

“Therefore, to have been honoured with well over 15,000 personal votes by my fellow Tasmanians is something for which I will always be most appreciative. Those 15,000 plus votes represent 13% of the Tasmanian Liberal vote, without which the party would not have gained two quotas.”

The Liberal party has thanked Senator Abetz for his “tireless” service describing him as a “diligent servant” of the the state and a strong voice for Liberal values.

Senator Abetz entered the parliament in 1994 filling a casual vacancy, he was elected in his own right at the 1998 election. From 2001 he served as the Special Minister for State in the Howard government, and was promoted to Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation in a 2006 re-shuffle.

While in opposition he was the Liberal’s Leader in the Senate, and in the Abbott government he was Minister for Employment. A staunch member of the Liberal party’s conservative right wing, Abetz was dropped from the cabinet when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came to power in 2015 and he spent the rest of his time in parliament on the back bench.

During his political career Senator Abetz was a vocal opponent of marriage equality and the LGBTIQA+ communities. He was one of twelve senators who voted against the laws allowing same-sex couples to wed.

During the debate over marriage equality the Tasmanian senator said he had concerns that allowing same-sex couples to marry would lead to polyamory and people wanting to wed inanimate objects such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  He also once described the Pride flag as the flag of a hostile nation.

Senator Abetz had a close relationship with many conservative groups including the Australian Christian Lobby, the World Congress of Families, the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, of which he was a member, and the Australian Family Association.

Graeme Watson


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