Nationals MP Martin Aldridge will retire from politics at next election to ‘pass the baton’

Anna CoxGeraldton Guardian
Nationals MP Martin Aldridge will retire from politics at the 2025 State election.
Camera IconNationals MP Martin Aldridge will retire from politics at the 2025 State election. Credit: Nationals WA

Nationals Agricultural Region MP Martin Aldridge will step back from politics at next year’s election, calling time on what will have been an 11-year career in State politics.

But Mr Aldrigde insists his decision has nothing to do with fractures in the alliance between the Nationals and Liberal Party.

He announced his decision to step aside on Tuesday night in a statement delivered in the Legislative Council.

“I came to this place with a commitment to serve, but not for it to define me or my career,” Mr Aldridge said.

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A father of three young children, Mr Aldridge said he had been discussing the move with his family for the past 12 months, with one of the sacrifices of public life being time away from family.

“I was quite clear from when I first ran for Parliament that I didn’t see myself as somebody that was going to have a 20 or 30-year career,” he said.

The MP and shadow minister for regional health and emergency services made headlines last month when leaked emails revealed he had accused Liberal leader Libby Mettam of prioritising “media stunts” over her parliamentary duties.

The spray came after Ms Mettam left Parliament to hold a press conference alongside North West Central MP Merome Beard, who defected from the Nationals to the Liberals last October.

The event focused on issues with the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme, which compensates regional West Australians who are forced to travel for medical procedures.

It is a topic Mr Aldridge has spent years probing in Parliament and, in a complaint to both Ms Mettam and Nationals leader Shane Love, he wrote he was blindsided by the doorstop.

The blow-up caused a major fracture in the Liberal-National alliance, and Mr Aldridge has since refused to sit in joint partyroom meetings.

Mr Aldridge said the series of events involving Ms Mettam and the leaked emails played no role in his decision to retire.

“What was exposed through the leaking of those private emails was my frustration at ensuring that the National Party and the Liberal Party were in the strongest possible position going into the next election,” he said.

“I think this election presents significant opportunity for both of our parties, and often our greatest weakness is our ability to collaborate, particularly in an election environment.”

Mr Aldridge said it was “a number of events at the time” that resulted in that particular exchange between himself and Ms Mettam.

The future is unclear for Mr Aldridge, whose substantive career was with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

“There are no prospects or plans at the moment,” he said.

“I don’t mind the idea of a little break. But I’m also the sort of person who gets stir-crazy on holidays after a couple of days. So I can’t imagine that lasting too long.”

Mr Aldridge said he had found immense joy and fulfilment in his career since his 2013 election to Parliament.

“Helping people access palliative care for family members in their final days, safety issues at school bus stops, and really complex family law and child protection issues”, are among the experiences Mr Aldridge lists which have kept him motivated.

The Lennard Brook resident remains passionate about the regions, and thanked the communities he had been involved with for having the privilege to do so, referencing a saying among the National Party.

“Your communities in your constituency don’t always expect you to win, but they expect you to get a blood nose trying,” he said.

Mr Love thanked Mr Aldridge for his service, saying he had been a “champion of regional WA”.

He said Mr Aldridge was the architect of the Emergency Services Volunteer Fuel Card, a fearless advocate for WA firefighters to receive presumptive cancer protections, had fought to hold the McGowan and Cook governments to account over broken promises regarding Geraldton Regional Hospital and Mullewa Hospital upgrades, and wrote WA’s first GST policy in 2010.

Mr Aldridge is one of just three Nationals in the Legislative Council, and his departure opens a spot near the top of the party’s ticket that will be considered winnable despite the Upper House becoming a single Statewide electorate from 2025.

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