Well it’s been the worst-kept secret in politics, you could say, and yet the Health Minister Greg Hunt announced his retirement from politics to be home more often, that’s after spearheading the Government’s response to the pandemic.
And Federal Minister, Greg Hunt, joins us now. Minister, thank you very much for joining us this morning.
What was the Prime Minister’s response when you told him your news? Did he try to convince you to stay?
Look, he was, he was very accepting. He said: I’d, you know, always prefer you to stay, but I understand, Poppy, James, 16-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son going into Year 11, going into secondary school. And that it’s been an immensely challenging time for, for everyone, but we’ve done really well.
So he’s comfortable because the systems are in place. You know, the National Incident Centre, which we’re extending today; the vaccine program which is now at 92.7 per cent.
All of the things that are going to keep Australia safe, they’re there. I reflect on the PM and Josh – Prime Minister, Treasurer – they know the way, they know how to keep us safe.
And so I feel that we’re well placed, and that gives me comfort that after two decades I, I get to be a dad, and I get to be a husband.
And there’s a lot of work to do between now and then. – I’m out announcing $500 million of COVID extension support for next year this morning.
But it’s nice to know that we’ve got a clear direction for the country, but I can step away and we’re in strong, clear hands and, you know, the strongest possible leadership.
Yeah, well good on you, you deserve that family time. How much of a toll has your career taken on your family?
Look, fortunately these two beautiful children have grown up to be two amazing young adults, and that’s probably because my wife has raised them largely as a single parent, so they’ve been in better, stronger hands with her.
But look, if you asked me the hardest part of the job, it’s not media, or criticism, or the hours, or the pressures. It’s just the time away from the family.
What’s the darkest moment for me? Sunday afternoons when I have to leave to go to Canberra and be away for the best part of a week. And what’s the brightest part? Is when I get home, and then I can be out in the electorate, and sometimes the kids will be with me, or Paula, I get to see them.
And yeah, I love where I live, I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and I’ll really miss being a local member - it’s such a privilege. And you see the best of the country.
One of the things is, I really believe in this country, and I'm very optimistic about Australia. And I think we need to give ourselves a break and say, hang on. This country's done amazing things through the pandemic, but it is an incredible country.
Greg, Congratulations I was watching closely yesterday when Scomo addressed you. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. You said recently that you want a woman to replace you, was there anyone you've got in mind?
Look, I think there is the potential for a strong, brilliant woman to be pre-selected, subject to the will of the local members.
I won't single people out, I don't think that's respectful of the pre-selectors. But I am absolutely confident that talent is there.
And we're seeing around the country, people such as Stephanie Asher in Corangamite, the Mayor of Geelong, who's, you know, strong and powerful and charismatic. Sharn Coombes in Dunkley, which is the seat representing Frankston as the Liberal candidate, you know, who's been a criminal prosecutor and a barrister, I think one of the finalists on Australian Survivor, she's our amazing candidate there.
You then have people such as Katie Arlen, and Fiona, Fiona Martin, and Lucy Wicks, and Gladys Liu, and Melissa McIntosh, who are already in the Parliament; Amanda Stoker. So there’s huge talent coming through.
So much talent. Yeah. So much talent. But given what we've seen over the course of the past week, Minister, would you be comfortable letting your own daughter go into Australian politics given its current state?
Yes, absolutely. You know, I think she's looked at my life and said, I didn't think that's for me. But she's pretty bright, pretty driven, and has a real sense of justice. So if that's the course that, you know, either Pops or James want to choose for their lives, I'd support them in that choice. But they've got to make their own way.
But I see these people who are coming in now, and I'm excited about the future of the, the Liberal, Liberal Party. You know, the backbench is the strongest I've ever seen.
And, you know, with people that I've mentioned who are coming through, you see this immense talent. And we, we have the highest number of women in the history of Cabinet- within the Australian Cabinet. And their role is just getting stronger, louder, more prominent. And that's a pretty good direction.
Well, Greg Hunt, enjoy your time at home with the fam in the future. And thank you for joining us today.