Former Foreign Minister Marise Payne to leave parliament after 26 years

Former Foreign Minister Marise Payne, a prominent moderate in the New South Wales Liberal party, is quitting parliament at the end of this month after 26 years in the Senate.

The longest-serving woman in the Senate’s history. Payne’s departure has been expected since the last election. She chose not to serve as a shadow minister after the Coalition’s 2022 election defeat, but became secretary of opposition leader Peter Dutton’s shadow cabinet.

She said in a statement Friday that she and Dutton had been colleagues and friends for more than 20 years while noting “politics has occasionally tested our strong friendship”. But their “shared service as foreign and defence ministers at a time of great challenge for Australia cemented my regard and respect for him”.

Payne’s replacement will be chosen by the NSW Liberal party. A Senate resignation does not trigger a byelection.

Payne, 59, entered parliament in 1997, and was a minister under prime ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. One of her portfolios was human services, and she was among former ministers appearing before the Robodebt royal commission.

She was defence minister from 2015-18 (the first woman in the post), before succeeding Julie Bishop in foreign affairs. She also served as minister for women from 2019.

Read more: Julie Bishop goes to backbench, Marise Payne becomes new foreign minister

During the COVID pandemic, Payne called for an independent inquiry into the pandemic’s origins. The government’s pursuit of an investigation infuriated the Chinese government, leading to deep tensions and retaliatory actions by China.

Coming after the highly visible Bishop, Payne had a hard act to follow as foreign minister, and was criticised even by colleagues for her reluctance to do media appearances except when absolutely necessary.

In her statement, Payne outlined a long list of achievements, including her part in the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal and the Coalition’s “Pacific Step-Up” program.

Opposition Senate leader Simon Birmingham, a close friend of Payne’s, said:

Against the realpolitik we all work within, Marise has held true to her values and beliefs, fought tirelessly for the people of New South Wales, in particular western Sydney, and been a passionate Liberal, both philosophically and politically.

Names that have been mentioned as possible candidates for preselection for Payne’s seat are Andrew Constance, a moderate former state minister, and Warren Mundine, a conservative and prominent “no” campaigner in the Voice referendum.

This article is republished from The Conversation is the world's leading publisher of research-based news and analysis. A unique collaboration between academics and journalists. It was written by: Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra.

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Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.