Simon Corbell, the ACT’s deputy chief minister, attorney general, and minister for the environment, health and the capital metro, has announced he will not contest the 2016 general election.
“My decision to not seek ALP pre-selection for the next election has involved a long period of reflection and discussion with those closest to me,” Mr Corbell said.
“I know that after nearly two decades of public service, the majority of my adult working life, it is the right time for me to explore new horizons and new opportunities, personally and professionally.”
Mr Corbell was first elected in 1997, and has been behind Australia’s most ambitious energy policy, which set a 90 per cent renewables target by 2020 – a target considered to be highly achievable.
The policy has progressed the development of major solar and wind projects across the territory.
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Most recently on the sustainability front, the government announced a $3.3 million loan to Canberra Hospital through the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Fund for lighting and other energy efficiency upgrades, as well as a 500kW solar system.
“I am quietly satisfied by the contribution I have made over the past 18 years and I am enthusiastic about the work that is still ahead of me over the next 14 months,” Mr Corbell said.
“I particularly look forward to seeing the first stage of a Canberra-wide light rail network begin construction next year, a project that will transform our city, lay the foundations for future stages and create jobs for thousands of Canberrans.
“I am pleased that people now look to the ACT as a leader on climate change action. The significant progress that has been made in progressing the 90 per cent renewable energy target is work, and a passion, I hope to build on in the months, and years, ahead.
“The passage of Australia’s first marriage equality legislation will remain a highlight of my appointment as Attorney-General.”
The government’s light rail project has come up against fierce community opposition, and is set to be a major election issue next year.
The cost of the project is estimated at $800 million for the first 12 kilometres with many questioning its need in what is Australia’s least congested capital city.
Mr Corbell, however, says Canberra needs to limit sprawl and become a medium density city.
“Walter Burley Griffin’s initial design was for a city which is highly compact and walkable and serviced by a city light rail tram network,” he told The Fifth Estate last year.
“Canberra is reaching the limits – the physical limits – of the ACT border. The population is expected to be 400,000 by 2016, so we need to consolidate the population growth centres.”
Mr Corbell will retain his current portfolios until the next election.