Australian deputy PM announces retirement

Canberra, Feb 11 (IANS) Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss on Thursday announced his retirement from politics after a 26-year-long career, ahead of a possible cabinet reshuffle.

His retirement will leave behind a vacancy in the leadership of the National Party, which is popular in rural regions of the country and part of the ruling coalition, together with the Liberal Party, Efe news reported.

“I will stand down as leader of the Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister at a convenient time for the government, probably in the next few days,” Truss said in parliament.

Truss, who is minister for regional development and infrastructure and has led his party since 2007, was expected to retire in March, which is why Thursday’s announcement fuelled speculation about a reshuffle.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is tipped to succeed Truss as National Party leader.

Truss’ announcement comes a day after Trade Minister Andrew Robb said he too intended to quit politics after this year’s federal election, after 12 years in Parliament.

The government has already suffered two setbacks towards the end of 2015, first with the exit of cities minister Jamie Briggs, who stepped down for “inappropriate” conduct in front of an official during an official visit to Hong Kong.

The other was Mal Brough, who resigned as special minister of state and minister for defence material and science, owing to a police investigation into his role in the downfall of former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper, whom he had defeated in the 2013 elections.

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