Liberal MLA Alistair Coe, who served as ACT opposition leader until his election loss last year, has announced he will resign from politics in March.
- Alistair Coe was elected as a member for Yerrabi in 2008, and served as opposition leader from 2016 until his defeat in October last year
- The MLA says he is uncertain what his next steps are, but he remains passionate about Canberra and the Liberal Party
- Current Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee says Mr Coe has been an “outstanding local member, colleague, confidante and friend”
Mr Coe has been a member for Yerrabi since being elected in 2008 at the age of just 24.
In a statement, Mr Coe said he would resign in time for his casual vacancy to be filled before the ACT Legislative Assembly sits for the first time in 2021.
“In the weeks since the 2020 election, I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate my future. I am proud of what I have achieved and my commitment to the ACT over the past 12 years,” Mr Coe said.
“Whilst I am not sure what the future has in store for me, my passion for Canberra and the Liberals remains strong.”
Mr Coe has been quiet since ceding the leadership of the Canberra Liberals to Elizabeth Lee after his election defeat in October last year.
But he said his energy has faded after so long serving in opposition.
“I really have given it everything I’ve got. To be a politician requires a huge amount of commitment, a huge amount of passion,” Mr Coe said.
“It’s like being in the cockpit of a plane – you’re there, you can see the controls, but you can’t touch them. That is frustrating.”
Mr Coe developed a reputation over his political career as a conservative in the shape of former party leader Zed Seselja, and briefly gained national attention as the only federal, state or territory party leader to oppose legalising same-sex marriage during the postal survey.
He was also regarded as a fierce scrutineer in committees, grilling politicians and agency heads with a deep knowledge of the bureaucracy.
He said one of his proudest achievements had been helping to expose several questionable land deals.
Party leaders pay tribute
In a statement, now-Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said he had been a “great friend” to multicultural and faith communities in Canberra.
“It has been my pleasure to work with Alistair,” Ms Lee said.
“Canberra is richer for his service to our great city.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said his absence would be noticed in the chamber.
“Politics is tough. I respect Mr Coe’s decision to resign from the Assembly and wish he and his family all the best for the future,” Mr Barr said.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said as the longest-serving member in the Assembly, Mr Coe had shown a dedication to the Canberra community.
“While we often disagreed heartily about issues, Alistair represented his beliefs and his constituency in a genuine and heartfelt manner,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“Having worked with Alistair on a number of committees and pieces of legislation over the years, I have always appreciated both his attention to detail and a willingness to find a way through contested discussions — something important in politics when you are trying to get the best outcomes for the community.”
Mr Coe’s departure from his seat in Yerrabi will trigger a countback of votes, and the next in line is his fellow Liberal Party member James Milligan, who lost his seat at the election.
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