Polley retires with House in order

MICHAEL POLLEY, Australia's current longest-serving politician is to retire.

The veteran Speaker, who won a seat in the House of Assembly in 1972, said he was looking forward to a life out of Parliament next year, supporting his wife Northern Midlands Mayor Kim Polley and son Tim.

His departure will rob Parliament and public life of one of our most colourful characters. He is renowned for being Labor's most ruthless tactician - largely responsible for the downfall of two Labor leaders Doug Lowe and Neil Batt.

In 1992, he secretly organised a speakership coup within the new majority Liberal government by securing the election of Lyons Liberal MHA Graeme Page as speaker, in defiance of the government's choice of Denison Liberal MHA Michael Hodgman.

``I turn 64 in November and would be 68 after another term, so I want to to go. I don't feel old, and it hasn't been an easy decision, but now that I've made it, I'm looking forward to spending more time on other aspects of my life,'' Mr Polley told The Examiner .

He will retire on a pension of more than $100,000 a year, or he can choose a lump some of about $1.3 million, under a generous 1973 super scheme that has been closed since 1984.

As a popular member for Labor in Lyons, his departure will hand the Liberals an opportunity in the electorate, where the party must pick up three seats in order to win majority government.

He has been House of Assembly Speaker for 19 years, including a stint in 1989-92. His speaker's salary package is $209,756, plus staff and a government limousine.

He became interested in politics as a 15-year-old, and after a stint as a sewing machine salesman, won party preselection by one vote. At his first election in 1972 he topped his party's polling in Lyons by winning almost 11 per cent of the primary vote; and just short of a quota.

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