BOB Baldwin didn’t have to think hard when asked to nominate his career highlight.
“Winning the seat,” he said. “It is a great honour simply to be elected.
“I remember after that first victory being asked if I was happy with my office. I said I would have been happy sitting on a fruitbox with a clipboard as a desk.”
A political survivor, Mr Baldwin has held the volatile seat of Paterson for 17 of the past 20 years, first elected in 1996, then in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. He lost to political rival Bob Horne in 1998, before winning the seat back three years later.
That loss, he said on the weekend, had played on his mind when weighing up his decision to retire.
“Having had that experience of losing office in 1998, it was important to me to go out at a time of my choosing,” he said.
Mr Baldwin was looking forward to spending more time with wife Cynthia, daughter Samantha, 23, and sons David and Robbie, 25.
Mr Baldwin served in the ministry of both the Howard and Abbott Governments, including roles as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Minister for Industry and Minister for the Environment.
In Opposition he held positions in the shadow ministry, including spokesman for Defence, Science and Personnel, Regional Development and Tourism.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Baldwin had served with distinction in the ministry, acknowledging in particular his contributions to delivering reforms to restrict the dumping and subsidisation of imported goods, and his work on water sustainability in the Murray Darling Basin.
Mr Baldwin was dumped from the coalition ministry by Mr Turnbull in September, despite reportedly supporting the new leader in his successful challenge to Tony Abbott.
The Paterson MP pre-empted news of the cabinet reshuffle by announcing his own demotion on Twitter and Facebook, writing: ‘‘Just informed that I am no longer a member of the Executive Government.’’
Although a keen user of social media, Mr Baldwin lamented the advent of “nasty trolls who hide behind fake accounts”. He alluded to this on his Facebook page on Sunday, responding to comments about his resignation: “Feeling great that I have given the trolls something to go into overdrive about Happy days and keeps them off the streets.”