After a political career spanning almost three decades, former Victorian premier Denis Napthine has stepped aside to make way for fresh ideas.
The veterinarian turned politician will serve his last day in state parliament on Thursday after announcing his resignation on Monday.
During a career of “immeasurable highs and lows” Dr Napthine represented the South-West Coast electorate and held roles as opposition leader and premier.
“I bow out of politics and parliamentary life with many, many happy memories, with lifelong friends and hopefully with a record that says I made a difference to my community and to this great state which I love so much,” he said.
Dr Napthine was sworn in as premier on his birthday in 2013 after the shock resignation of Ted Baillieu.
After just 20 months in the top job he moved to the backbench after leading the coalition to defeat in the November 2014 election.
He had intended to finish out his term but decided to retire early after speaking to friends and voters.
“They suggested it was perhaps time to step aside … and allow fresh blood to take us to the 2018 election,” he said.
“I think that’s a very powerful message.”
The Liberal Party’s pre-selection committee will decide who will stand in the upcoming by-election for his seat and Dr Napthine says his successor needs to be someone has a connection with the local area.
Asked if he would support his son Tom, who joined him on the campaign trail in the lead up to the last state election, Dr Napthine said if he decided to stand, he would.
Being sworn in as premier on his birthday in 2013 and signing the national disability insurance scheme agreement were among the high points of Dr Napthine’s time in parliament.
The loss of his role as opposition leader in 2002 and the November 2014 election defeat that saw him stand down as premier were less happy times.
But he has no regrets.
Dr Napthine says he wants to spend more time with his wife Penny and sons Jack, Edward and Tom.
He might consider another role, perhaps in the disability or public sector, down the track.
“My immediate plans are to spend more time walking along the beach at Port Fairy and recharging the batteries,” he said.
He says he will do all he can to help the Liberals, led by Matthew Guy, win back government in 2018.
Mr Guy, who served as chief of staff to Dr Napthine, described him as an inspirational politician who loved taking the “wacky pictures” that have inspired #memoriesofdenis farewell on Twitter on Monday.
“He had the best dad jokes of anyone in the building and that kind of personality shone through, and I think Victorians saw it, too,” he told reporters on Monday.