A FEDERAL Coalition MP has announced her retirement from politics after holding her coastal New South Wales seat for more than 15 years.
Liberal MP Joanna Gash (pictured) said yesterday she would not contest her south coast seat of Gilmore at the election, saying she intended to return to local politics and would stand for deputy mayor of Shoalhaven in NSW council elections in September.
Mrs Gash who served as a whip while in government and later as the shadow parliamentary secretary for tourism said she aimed to carry out her federal duties "regardless of the outcome" of the local contest.
"I want to give something back the community that has sustained me for more than 60 years," she said. "Local government has always had an attraction for me and I believe I can offer the community more through that tier of government."
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott paid tribute to Mrs Gash's time in Parliament.
"Her ability to defy the political trend demonstrates her effectiveness as a local member and her great commitment to the interests of the people of Gilmore, especially the Shoalhaven," Mr Abbott said.
"She will be missed from the Parliament but it's good that she hopes to continue to serve the public in local government."
Mrs Gash, who entered Federal Parliament in 1996, holds her seat by a margin of 5.3 per cent.