Wendouree MP Sharon Knight has confirmed she will not contest the 2018 state election, bringing to an end what will be an eight year political career.
Ms Knight was first elected as the member for Ballarat West in 2010, taking the seat from retired Labor MP Karen Overington.
In December 2014 Ms Knight took on the role of Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resources.
Speaking on Monday morning, Ms Knight said she was unable to commit to another four years in parliament. She has three adult children and was recently married.
“You need to have a lot of energy, you need to be there every day and you need to work hard every minute of every day in this job and I’ve been so pleased and thrilled to do that, however I don’t believe I can do that for another four years,” Ms Knight said.
“It’s a very personal decision...you have to make these decisions within the context of who you are in your life and what you can give to the job.”
Prior to entering politics Ms Knight had managed Lifeline Ballarat and also worked within federal Ballarat MP Catherine King’s office.
She managed to secure an impressive 5.9 per cent swing at the 2014 election despite redistribution narrowly putting the Liberal Party in favour during the electorate change from Ballarat West to Wendouree.
Ms Knight listed projects such as the Mars Stadium development, upgrades to the Ballarat Secondary College Mount Rowan campus and the Ballarat Station Precinct refurbishment among her proudest achievements during her time in parliament.
While Ms Knight will continue to serve until the election, the announcement unofficially opens the race for the seat, with Labor preselections due to take place later this year.
Ms Knight refused to be drawn on the potential candidates for the soon-to-be vacant seat but said it had played a role in the timing of the announcement.
“We have great processes around preselection and those dates are coming up soon and that’s one of the reasons I’ve timed the announcement for now,” Ms Knight said.
“It’s a decision for the branch as to who is the next candidate and the party, but I’ll absolutely be supporting whoever it is to get them elected into an Andrews Labor government.”
Leaders thank a “champion” of Ballarat
Leaders from both Ballarat and Spring Street have praised outgoing Wendouree MP Sharon Knight for her contribution to state politics following her shock decision to leave parliament at the 2018 election.
Premier Daniel Andrews was quick to congratulate Ms Knight for her two terms in the legislative assembly, describing her as a “tireless champion for Ballarat”.
“From local jobs to live music, Sharon has been a passionate voice for her community,” Mr Andrews said in a statement. “I would particularly like to pay tribute to her lifelong advocacy on behalf of people living with a disability.”
Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King also paid tribute to Ms Knight, who had worked in her office prior to seeking preselection in 2010.
“She always ensured those many constituents who sought support from her as their local member received every possible assistance.”
Committee for Ballarat chief executive Melanie Robertson described the Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resources as “enthusiastic” in her ability to promote Ballarat in Spring Street.
“The development of Govhub (at Civic Hall) and bringing new jobs to Ballarat has largely been testament to Sharon’s enthusiasm and her continually putting Ballarat in the picture.”
Despite being a Liberal Party member, City of Ballarat mayor Samantha Mclntosh also praised Ms Knight’s contribution, saying in a statement “as mayor, it is important to have good relationships with all political parties and all representatives, no matter their political persuasion, and Sharon has achieved some huge successes for Ballarat”.
“I would also like to reiterate that, at this stage, I am absolutely committed to being the mayor of Ballarat.”
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