MP Jeanette Powell keeps mum on ‘retirement’

VICTORIAN Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell is remaining tight-lipped on her intentions for the Victorian election.

There were media reports yesterday that National Party MPs Mrs Powell; Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty; and Higher Education Minister Peter Hall would all retire at the November election, but the two men denied they were going.

Mrs Powell, 65 next month, has been the member for Shepparton for 11 years, and was a Upper House member for six years before that.

Mrs Powell issued a one-line statement yesterday that did not directly address her intentions.

“My focus continues to be on working to support the Shepparton electorate, to build a stronger local government sector, work with the Victorian Aboriginal community and work towards the re-election of the Coalition Government,” she said.

In December last year, Mrs Powell told local media she planned to re-contest the seat, saying she was “too busy to think about retiring”.

Electoral boundary changes mean Shepparton electorate will take the Nathalia area from Murray Valley.

Murray Valley MP Tim McCurdy denied the party was looking to clean out its frontbench.

“I know in Labor there were some problems where people were getting pushed (to retire),” he said.

“In our party that’s not the case, you leave when you’ve done all you can.

“I think Jeanette has done very well and handled her portfolio very well ... and (with all MPs) I’m sure it will be their choice if they continue on.”

Mr McCurdy said moves to include parts of Murray Valley in Shepparton made sense.

Mr Delahunty, 64, hosed down speculation he would retire: “It’s a great way of getting some publicity ... but I fully intend to stand at the next election”.

Mr Hall, 61, was less direct, stating that he was “thoroughly enjoying my role as minister and have no current plans for retirement”.

Benalla Nationals MP Bill Sykes, 65, is retiring in November and colleague Paul Weller’s seat of Rodney is being scrapped.

Former Nationals member for Murray Valley Ken Jasper was 72 when he retired from Parliament in 2010 after 34 years.

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