RETIRING independent MP Tony Windsor has sent a message to country Australia: value your vote.
Mr Windsor and fellow independent Rob Oakeshott both announced on Wednesday morning they would retire from politics .
Taken together, the two politicians have spent nearly 40 years in politics at state and federal level, much of that time in hung parliaments. Despite the emphasis at the coming election on city seats in areas like western Sydney, Mr Windsor said country voters must remember their vote counted.
He said even though country Australia only represented 15% of the vote, "they can control the election outcome".
Mr Windsor said if regional voters continued to support "one party over all others, all parties will ignore them".
He said the decision to retire at the coming election was based in part due to health factors, but also to spend more time with his family.
"My youngest son is 21, and he's never known his father as anything other than a politician - I'd like to take him to Africa," Mr Windsor said.
He said despite the chief challenger being current Senator Barnaby Joyce, he was not motivated to run again "simply to prevent the Nationals winning a seat".
Mr Oakeshott said "the time was right" for him to exit the political stage, after going through six elections with his young family.
"I signed up for the 43rd parliament, it's run its full term, and I'm just not recontesting for the next time around," he told Radio National.
Repeating statements during a lengthy speech in the house earlier this week, Mr Oakeshott said the current parliament had passed 585 pieces of legislation, 87% of which had bipartisan support.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard wished them both well.
"Rob smiles easily and wears his heart on his sleeve and politics could do with more of that, not less," she said in a statement.
Ms Gillard also said Mr Windsor's legacy could be seen all around the community where he lives, and the "water trigger" changes to Commonwealth environmental law would likely be seen as his signature achievement during the 43rd parliament.
She said Mr Oakeshott could also point to specific achievements in the carbon pricing legislation as his.
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