Dutton’s glowing tribute for retiring senator

Senator Marise Payne has announced she will retire at the end of September. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Andrew Taylor
Senator Marise Payne has announced she will retire at the end of September. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Andrew Taylor

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has issued a glowing tribute to former foreign minister Marise Payne after the veteran minister announced her retirement from a 26-year political career.

Australia’s longest-serving female senator confirmed her departure at the end of the month on Friday following months of speculation over her exit.

Mr Dutton issued a statement that credited Senator Payne for guiding Australia through its most complex strategic environment since the Second World War.

“Marise’s diplomatic engagement ensured our bilateral and multilateral relationships were nurtured and strengthened during the Covid-19 pandemic when travel was prohibited,” Mr Dutton said.

Our alliance with the United States, Quad partnership and engagement with our Pacific neighbours is in such a strong position today thanks to Marise’s commitment and hard work in the most testing and difficult of circumstances.”

Senator Marise Payne has been a member of the Liberal Party since 1982. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short

Senator Payne’s long list of achievements includes being appointed as the country’s first female defence minister under the Abbott government in 2015 and serving as the second woman under foreign affairs portfolio in 2018.

She drew international attention under the former Coalition government after calling for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 and was an integral part of the landmark AUKUS nuclear submarine deal.

The NSW moderate confirmed that she would leave the Senate at the end of September, saying in a statement that her political and personal home is western Sydney, “one of the most dynamic and diverse parts of the nation”.

“It is an extraordinary honour to be elected to represent one’s community in the federal parliament,” she said.

“To have had the privilege to have served as long as I have, and in the process to have become Australians' longest-serving female senator in history, is something of which I am very proud.”

Senator Payne was appointed minister for women by Scott Morrison in 2019. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nikki Short

Opposition senate leader Simon Birmingham said the 59-year-old departs “having created history”.“The contribution that she has made stretches far beyond the significant offices that she has held,” he said.

“Personally, I could not have asked for a better friend or more trustworthy confidante throughout my senate career.”

Despite departing from the Senate next month, Senator Payne said she was still a “long way” from complete retirement, having been recently nominated by the US to act as ship sponsor for the USS Canberra.

Her departure has now opened a flurry of questions over who her replacement will be, with reports tipping former Liberal MP and No campaigner Nyunggai Warren Mundine and former NSW transport minister Andrew Constance as potential contenders.