Western Australian Liberal Senator and former Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds has advised her colleagues that she will not nominate for a Senate seat at the next election, which is due before June 2025.
A member of the centrist and moderate factions of the WA Liberal Party, Senator Reynolds was first elected to her Senate seat in 2013 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2019.
In 2018, she was appointed Assistant Minister for Home Affairs under Peter Dutton during Scott Morrison’s first term as Prime Minister. She was promoted to Cabinet as the Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for Emergency Management and North Queensland Recovery.
Following the Coalition’s 2019 election win, she was elevated to the position of Defence Minister before later being relegated to Minister of Government Services and Minister for the NDIS in March 2021. She does not hold a position in the Coalition’s current opposition shadow ministry.
“For 40 years, I have proudly served my nation in the Army, in the Liberal Party, in the defence industry, in Parliament and in government,” she said in a statement posted on social media on Monday afternoon (12 February).
“In my career after the Senate, I will continue to serve, but in new ways.
“It is rare in politics to have the opportunity to choose the time and circumstances of your departure, and my decision has been made after considerable reflection of what is behind me and the opportunities that are now ahead of me.
“Being preselected and elected to the Senate is a great honour and a privilege few Australians are afforded. This is my 10th year in the Senate and my passion and commitment to my state and to my nation remains as strong as ever,” she added.
“I am proud of what I have delivered in my many parliamentary and ministerial roles, including as Defence Minister and Minister for Government Services and the NDIS – particularly as it was during some of the most challenging times in our nation’s recent history.”
In April 2019, Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins claimed she was sexually assaulted by policy advisor Bruce Lehrmann late one night in Minister Reynolds’ Parliament House office. Reports of the alleged assault did not surface until February 2021.
He has denied the accusations and there were no legal findings against him over the matter.
Senator Reynolds is currently pursuing defamation action against Ms Higgins and her fiance, David Sharaz, over comments made on social media and has applied for an order to freeze Ms Higgins’ assets.
She also lodged a complaint with the National Corruption Commission regarding Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’s handling of the government’s $2.3 million compensation payment to Brittany Higgins.
Senator Reynolds was scathing of the Liberal Party’s August 2018 leadership spill of Malcolm Turnbull in favour of Scott Morrison, describing it as having “no place in my party or this chamber”, and saying she was “distressed and disturbed” by the behaviour of some of her colleagues.
“I owe the Liberal Party so much, none more so than for being appointed as Deputy Federal Director and preselected as a Senate candidate three times, including in the first position for my last election,” she said.
“I am very grateful for the lifelong friendships I have made in the Party and for the overwhelming support I continue to receive from WA Liberal Party members and volunteers who have helped me over the last decade.”
Senator Reynolds will leave the upper house when her Senate term ends in June 2025.