Senator Nick Minchin has announced he will leave politics when his term ends on 30 June, 2011 and that in the meantime he will step down from the opposition front bench.

Senator Minchin, a Liberal, has been a Senator for South Australia since 1993, and on the Coalition front bench from 1994. He was Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister John Howard, 1996-97, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, 1997-98, Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, 1998-2001, and Minister for Finance and Administration, 2001 -2007.   Until the 2007 election, when the government was defeated by Labor, he was Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council.

… constitutional defender….

Senator Minchin proved to be a strong and consistent defender of the constitutional system, and thus of the essential aspects of our Federal Commonwealth under the Crown. As Special Minister of State he was charged with the organisation of the Constitutional Convention election, of the 1998 Convention itself and of the 1999 referendum.

That all were fair and efficient processes is due principally to his attention to detail. While he was absolutely committed to the Crown and the Federation, he was impeccable in dealing fairly with those wanting change. It is a pity that when they lost, some republicans were to fabricate reasons as to explain this, for example that the questions were unfair or the risible myth that the Convention was rigged.

….master tactician….

Senator Minchin played a significant role in many other areas crucial to the Howard government programme, including native title and the sale of Telstra.  He provided sound intelligent and pragmatic advice to government, unaffected to an unusual degree by the usual desire among politicians for personal publicity or advancement. He was as Samantha Maiden says in The Australian (25/3) says, a master tactician and a conservative,   dubbed “Lord of the Dries”.

In Opposition he again played a central role. Doubting the theory  of anthropogenic global warming he led the opposition to Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to approve compromise ETS legislation before the Prime Minister went to the 2009 Copenhagen conference.  This led to the Liberal Party narrowly electing Tony Abbott as leader to replace Malcolm Turnbull.

…constitutional monarchist leader…..

Samantha Maiden recalls that Senator Minchin and Malcolm Turnbull's first epic battle was over the republic.

“Minchin was a leader in the forces of the Queen, while Turnbull headed the republicans,” she writes. When he lost, Malcolm Turnbull condemned John Howard in history as the man "who broke a nation's heart". “But it was Minchin who carried the dagger,” Ms Maiden avers.

If Malcolm Turnbull quits before the next election, she says,  the two men at the heart of the climate change clash, the most violent civil war in the Liberal Party's history, will be gone.

A tragic accident during a defence training exercise last month that left his 19-year-old son Oliver seriously injured is understood to have prompted the decision.

"Obviously when something like that happens and when one of your children has frankly a near-death experience it does make you reassess your life and your priorities and think about what's important to you and what you want to do with the rest of your life," Senator Minchin said.

ACM expresses it deep sympathy and strong support to Senator and Mrs Minchin, and  wishes to place on record their appreciation for his service as a courageous warrior in the defence of our constitutional system.