Poor health forces Dr Mike Kelly to resign

April 30, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Dr Mike Kelly has resigned from parliament citing health issues dating back to the time he served in the Australian Defence Force.

Mike Kelly

The Labor MP has represented the seat of Eden-Monaro between 2007 and 2013 and from 2016 to the present day serving as the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support in the Kevin Rudd government.

As a member of the Australian Defence Force, he served in Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and Timor. He suffered massive problems from dehydration in Iraq.

In his resignation speech, Dr Mike Kelly said: “The renal situation was at times quite serious. I’ve had ten procedures in the last six months. And the bushfires and coronavirus situation have in some ways masked my inability to be on the road and be out in Eden-Monaro as much as I should have or would have liked to have been.

So, the timing for me is about enabling that new member to do that work, to prevent myself from being in the position where I would let down my community, my caucus members and my Leader by not being able to do this job to the full extent that it should be done, that the community demands and deserves. I certainly couldn’t cope mentally with not being able to go full pace at this job.

He said that every generation of my family had served in the military and involved in all of Australia’s wars.

Kelly’s great-grandfather ran for the seat in 1940 but missed out. He added: “So, I was glad to have kind of brought it home for the family in that respect. And I hope that I have done my family the honour that they deserve in how we have conducted ourselves.”

He regrets to have to resign saying “it has broken my heart to have to do this. It is gut-wrenching, as I have just said. And I wouldn’t be doing it if it just wasn’t absolutely necessary to do it now.”

The MP told media that his wife is also going through some health issues too. He said: “She has procedures in front of her, as I have procedures more to come in front of me, which results in weeks at a time not being able to be on the road. But I need to be in a position to better support her through those procedures as well.”

Dr Mike Kelly thanked Kevin Rudd for his support and Julia Gillard for making him Minister for Defence Materiel.

He added: “Bill Shorten’s support for my campaigns for giving us a native shipbuilding industry and making that a bipartisan commitment and supporting me to be in the Shadow National Security Committee, and also the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and intelligence.”

He mentioned that he found it to have been a really rewarding and enjoyable experience, along with working with my good friend, the Liberal Member for Berowra, Julian Leeser, on the Parliamentary Friends of the Prevention of Suicide, ‘a subject close to my heart’.

Downplay the perceived bitterness between the two major parties, Mike Kelly said: “In my army career I stared into the face of true evil, whether it was genocidal warlords in Somalia, or murdering militia in Timor, or war criminals in Bosnia, or staring into Saddam Hussein’s face and the dirty dozen, so-called, in Iraq. So, it kept me in the situation where I had a good perspective on all of this. And so, I treat people on the other side of the chamber who I find as decent human beings, and having the national interest at heart, as I find that way.”

Federal leader Anthony Albanese told the media conference: “Mike Kelly is an extraordinary Australian, and he has brought a great deal of dignity, talent, capacity and commitment to this Parliament.

He perhaps has downplayed how tough the last six months has been for him. Ten surgical and medical procedures, he has been through. I have spoken to him throughout that period, and I know how difficult he has found it. But at the same time, every time I have spoken to him, even on the days when he is about to undergo a procedure, he has focused on the people of the electorate of Eden-Monaro. And his work that he did during the bushfire crisis was quite extraordinary, the commitment that he showed

The work that he’s done in the Parliament, on defence and national security issues, is frankly second to none. He brings with him real world experience, not just reading about issues. And it is that real world issues which has resulted in directly attributed to his health problems, arising from that period of being in Iraq. We have spoken about 56-degree heat. Suffering from dehydration that has had a long-term impact on his physical health and his capacity to get around. So, once again, in making this decision, Mike is putting his electorate first.

And Parliament will be poorer for the lack of his presence.”


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