Vanstone quits Australian politics, to receive posting in Rome

Thursday, April 26, 2007

After resigning from the Australian Senate, Amanda Vanstone earlier today, it has been announced that she will receive a diplomatic posting in Italy. Ms Vanstone served as a senator for South Australia since 1984 and held a number of portfolios in the Howard government.

Ms Vanstone was removed from the Howard ministry in January and said she had been contemplating her future since then.

Speaking in Adelaide Ms Vanstone announced her resignation from the senate - effective immediately. She told reporters she was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to represent South Australia in the senate and to have seen the Australian government from a number of perspectives. "To have experienced such a range of portfolios and therefore to see the Australian government from so many different perspectives has made the last 10 years an even richer experience," she said.

She declined to comment on rumours that she would be given a diplomatic post to Rome, claiming that such decisions are not in her hands.

Earlier today, foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer giving no indication of the announcement he was to make this evening, said that Ms Vanstone was a colourful character and her presence on the political scene will be missed. "She's had an impressive political career and has been a good colleague over a long period of time, " said Mr Downer

"She's also been a colourful character in politics, and politics certainly needs its characters."

"Her presence on the political scene will be missed by many Australians."

Other Liberal politicians also paid tribute to Ms Vanstone.

Christopher Pyne, Federal Ageing Minister, said Ms Vanstone was one of the most popular figures in the government. "I think she's one of the most loved figures in the Howard Government amongst the public," he said

Australian immigration minister Kevin Andrews, who replaced Ms Vanstone on the front bench in January said Ms Vanstone has made a large contribution to Australia. "We regret that Amanda has resigned, she's made a very significant contribution to Australian life, an enormous contribution through the Parliament and the Senate in particular," he said.

"She's been one of the few women who have ever risen to the rank of Cabinet minister in Australia, that's a major contribution and I wish her the very best in the future."

Alexander Downer this evening confirmed reports that Ms Vanstone will receive a posting in Rome. In a statement he said "Ms Vanstone may take up the position in Rome when the current ambassador's term ends in late June".

Mr Downer said Ms Vanstone would be a valuable asset in Italy. "Amanda Vanstone's long and varied experience as a member of parliament and minister in a range of portfolios will enable her effectively to promote Australia's interests in Italy," he said.

"She will begin pre-posting preparations and consultations as soon as possible."