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Australian ministers quit ahead of general election
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Australian ministers quit ahead of general election

Canberra, Mar 2: Australia's two top Defence Ministers on Saturday announced their retirement from politics with fewer than 90 days before the general election.

Christopher Pyne, Australia's Minister for Defence, and Steven Ciobo, the Minister for Defence Industries said that they would not contest May's election, with the latter stepping down as a minister immediately, The Canberra Times reported. The departure of ministers has created a new challenge for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the governing Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP).

Pyne has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sturt in South Australia since 1993 and as a Minister under three LNP PMs since the party won power in 2013. "It's time to retire while people are asking me to stay, rather than continue and end up later with people telling me to go," Pyne said in a statement on Saturday. "Twenty seven years ago I was preselected as the Liberal candidate on a platform of renewal in 2019, it is time to renew again. At fifty one, I still have the opportunity to have a second career beyond politics ", he added.

Ciobo was elected as the MP for Moncrieff in Queensland in 2001 and was sworn-in as a Minister when Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as PM in 2015. In addition to announcing his retirement from politics in May, Ciobo also stood down as the Minister for Defence Industries immediate effect.

The retirements come at a time when the government is trying to present a united front having been plagued by August's leadership crisis.

According to opinion polls the Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) is on track for a possible win at the election, which will be held in May. However, both Pyne and Ciobo said that they were confident the LNP would be re-elected. UNI