‘On My Deathbed, I’ll Be Defined by My Family’: Aussie Health Minister On Why He Quits Politics

By Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen is a Vietnamese reporter based in Sydney and focuses on Australian news. Contact her at nina.nguyen@epochtimes.com.au.
December 2, 2021 Updated: December 2, 2021

Health Minister Greg Hunt has revealed he wanted to put his family first as he announced he would leave politics ahead of the next federal election after two decades in parliament.

While Hunt would not recontest his Victorian seat of Flinders, he will continue to steer Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic as Health and Aged Care Minister until the next federal election, which is due to be held by May next year.

He paid tribute to his wife, who he said had raised their two children “largely as a single mother” during his time in parliament.

“You’re only ever a part-time dad or a part-time parent if you’re a parliamentarian,” he told 2GB Radio on Friday. “The more senior you are, the more the work of the nation draws away from the time with the family. And so it’s time.”

“Ultimately, on my deathbed, I’ll be defined by my family,” he continued, “You have to keep all these things in perspective. There’s a time and a season for everything.”

The 56-year-old father of two said he had “missed a lot of ballet concerts, soccer matches… many different school events and birthdays” of his kids.

“[My children] said to me, on Sunday, they looked at me, and they said ‘dad, this is your last chance to be a proper dad.’ And ‘it’s time to come home, dad,'” he told the Parliament on Thursday in a tearful speech.

Hunt’s wife, Paula, a former nurse educator with specialist training in operating theatres, told NCA NewsWire they were looking forward to making their family “whole”.

“Greg and I have been together for 18 years, and during that time, he has shown unwavering commitment to the electorate and the Australian people,” she said.

“To say he has worked tirelessly would be an understatement.”

One of the longest-serving cabinet members during the coalition’s eight years in office, the Health Minister is among the leading figures in Australia’s response to COVID-19, having received about 40,000 media requests during the pandemic, according to 2GB host Ben Fordham.

First elected to parliament in 2001 after a prior stint in law, the Victorian MP became the Liberals’ environmental spokesman and went on to take the role of Environment Minister under the Abbott government.

It was in this role that he was one of the pivotal architects behind the coalition’s repeal of the carbon tax, before taking on the health portfolio following an expenses scandal in 2017 involving Sussan Ley.

Hunt also listed on his website his major achievements as environment minister as setting up Australia’s emissions reduction fund and developing a 2050 long-term sustainability plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

He is also one of only three Liberal MPs to have served in the cabinet since the coalition came to office in 2013.

It is speculated Zoe McKenzie, an NBN non-executive director and experienced commercial business adviser, will replace him.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to Hunt, saying parliament would be at a loss.

“Your father, mate, he would be so proud,” Morrison said.

“I pray it will be a great time of blessing being with your family, and I look forward to our friendship in the many, many years to come.”

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also praised Hunt as a ‘worthy opponent.”

“Two decades in parliamentary life is a significant achievement, being a senior minister in a range of portfolios is something that you can be proud of,” he said.

There remained more to do in the months leading up to the election, Hunt told the parliament.

“There’s a country to protect, medicines to list, a budget to prepare, an election to win,” he said.

“But when all of that is done, it will be time to come home.”

Nina Nguyen
Nina Nguyen is a Vietnamese reporter based in Sydney and focuses on Australian news. Contact her at nina.nguyen@epochtimes.com.au.