LABOR MP Jill Hall will not recontest Shortland in a move expected to reduce the logjam between incumbent Hunter MPs seeking seats for the next election.
Ms Hall issued a statement on Sunday morning saying she would not renominate for the seat she has held since 1998.
“As the first woman elected to any State or Federal lower house seat in the Hunter, I am pleased to see so many Labor women now representing electorates across the Hunter,” she said.
“Thank you also to the many people who have expressed their support for me in recent months while I have considered my decision about the next election.
“After 18 years as a Federal Member of Parliament, I believe it is the right time to retire and move on to the next stage of my life.”
Ms Hall said a rank and file preselection would be held for her seat, which has been in hot demand after a boundary adjustment erased Joel Fitzgibbon’s seat from the electoral map.
Pat Conroy’s Charlton electorate will take that name instead, a decision that prompted the Labor party to put preselection for Bob Baldwin’s Paterson opponent on ice amid speculation Mr Fitzgibbon could stand there.
Ms Hall’s decision potentially paves the way for an incumbent MP to gain preselection, allowing a newcomer to stand against Mr Baldwin’s in his more marginal seat.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Ms Hall’s work over 30 years as Lake Macquarie’s mayor, Swansea state MP and federal parliament was testament to her belief in a fairer, more equal and inclusive Australia.
“She has been a formidable champion for the rights of Australians with disability as well as the great Labor idea of equality of opportunity, in everything from education to healthcare,” he said.
”Jill can leave this parliament proud of her record, knowing she dedicated every bit of her energy to creating opportunity and prosperity for her community and her country.
“My colleagues and I wish Jill and her family all the very best for a restful, happy and healthy future.”