Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon announces he will not contest next federal election

The member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon has announced that he will not contest the next federal election after serving as the region's representative since 1996.

"It has been a great honour and privilege to represent the people of Hunter in the House of Representatives for the past 25 years," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"Over that period the Hunter region's economy has modernised and grown both stronger and more diverse. It is a credit to the region's political, business and community leadership."

Image: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon

Image: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon

In a statement announcing his decision, Mr Fitzgibbon said it had been his mission in the 28 months following Labor's 2019 election defeat to urge Labor "to take back the centre ground and to focus on the things that matter most to the majority of Australians."

Mr Fitzgibbon also called on Australia's two major parties to build community consensus on climate change policy and to put an end to the political point scoring that is "perpetuating the climate wars."

Elected in 1996, Mr Fitzgibbon succeeded his father Eric to represent the Hunter and variously held the positions of Defence Minister, Agriculture Minister and Chief Government Whip throughout his parliamentary career.

The Hunter MP said he was leaving parliament confident Labor could win the next federal election, but took a parting swipe at "elitist and idealist excessive progressives" who he said seemed determined to 'consign Labor to the opposition benches'.

Image: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon by Alex Ellinghausen

Image: Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon by Alex Ellinghausen

Speaking on ABC Radio, Mr Fitzgibbon named a number of local candidates who could potentially succeed him, including former coal miner and trade union official Jeff Drayton, local nurse and union official Emily Suvaal, barrister Stephen Ryan and former coal miner and Olympian Daniel Repacholi.

In response to Mr Fitzgibbon's announcement, the CEO of the NSW Minerals Council Stephen Galilee said in a statement it was "a blow for mining families and communities in his electorate of Hunter and across NSW."

"The federal parliament will be poorer for his absence after the next election," Mr Galilee said.

This story Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon calls it quits first appeared on Muswellbrook Chronicle.