Canberra, Jan 26: In Australia, a third federal minister has announced his resignation from politics, with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion saying he will not contest the next election.
In a blow to the Government's re-election hopes, Senator Scullion joins Human Services Minister Michael Keenan and Jobs Minister Kelly O'Dwyer, who both announced this week they would step aside from politics to focus on their families, said an ABC News report on Saturday.
Senator Scullion made his announcement on Australia Day on Saturday, calling time on nearly two decades in federal politics.
"It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve the people of the Northern Territory for the last 17 years in the Australian Senate; I thank all Territorians for their support over this time," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected suggestions the three ministers were abandoning a sinking ship.
"I don't think that's a very kind way to put it, and I don't think that really does respect the decisions they made," he said.
He also denied it would hurt the Coalition's chances of winning the next election, saying the resignations were about nothing more than the "personal circumstances" of each politician.
"We've had members retiring and not standing at the next election from both sides of politics, and it means nothing more than that," he said.
"All governments refresh and that's a process that's going on."
The Prime Minister refused to guarantee no other ministers would resign before the election, saying Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would not be able to make the same commitment.
However, he tried to pour cold water on reports he was convincing former minister and Malcolm Turnbull supporter Craig Laundy to recontest his marginal Sydney seat of Reid.
"I caught up with him for an hour during the week, he was overseas when I was calling many members over the break, as you'd expect me to do as their leader, and I said 'let's catch up for brekky when you get back' and that's what we did," he said.
"At present he's continuing forward."
Mr Shorten seized on the issue, saying the Government's own ministers had "given up".
"This just shows a Government that's barely limping to the end of its term," he said.
"I suspect if the rumour mill is right, there's plenty more to come. "The Government has had nine of its current ministers and backbenchers say 'that's it'. They're either not recontesting or their party has dumped them."
Greens leader Richard Di Natale declared there would be more resignations ahead of the poll. "What we're seeing are ministers abandoning a government that has almost no chance of winning the next election," he said. (UNI)