Rob Oakeshott told his local newspaper yesterday that he will not contest the September 14 election because he wants to spend more time with his family. The real reason is that he would be humiliated by the conservative electorate he betrayed by throwing his support behind the Labor Party in a hung parliament, allowing Julia Gillard to govern for another three years. The federal member of Lyne said yesterday "Now is the moment." It's a pity he didn't have a 'now is the moment' epiphany when it counted.
In April 2011, Oakeshott admitted his electorate had turned against him, he knew the overwhelming majority of voters were dead set against a carbon tax, but went ahead and made a deal with Julia Gillard anyway.
He was vilified in the media, especially by Sydney broadcaster Ray Hadley and The Australian's editor in chief Chris Mitchell, but they weren't the only people angry with Oakeshott when he swapped sides, half the country hated him with a passion and many still do. When Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones heard the news that Oakeshott wanted out, he said on his radio show this morning 'cowards always run' so the hatred is still there in spades.
But we have to be fair, Oakeshott worked hard for his electorate and he's responsible for bringing $1.2 billion to the people of Port Macquarie, Kempsie and Taree, $160 million of which went towards education programmes.
There will be three candidates standing for Lyne in September, Labor's Peter Murphy, the Greens Ian Oxenford, and Rob Oakeshott's old party The Nationals' David Gillespie.
Even though Oakeshott went to the election as an Independent, he will always be remembered as a Labor supporter. He is one of three independents who put Julia Gillard into government - Oakeshott, Windsor and Wilkie.
With the Labor Party in crisis and their popularity continuing to fall every week, a Nielsen poll last week put Julia Gillard's primary vote at 29 per cent.
Speculation about Kevin Rudd's return continues as the top news story of the day which is appalling but the media isn't interested in anything else.
The electorate now knows that it was Kevin Rudd who changed John Howard's border protection rules that has cost the country dearly housing, feeding, and paying welfare benefits to thousands of boat people who continue to arrive by leaky boat almost every day. So if Labor replace Gillard with Rudd, will it make a difference?
But one thing is for sure, Julia Gillard won't step down voluntarily. As one of her Labor colleagues said this week "she's one tough chick" and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the top job, even though it's Labor's only chance of winning the federal election in September. I just wish they would sort it out so we can talk about something else.