The Senate president, Scott Ryan, has decided to retire from politics early and will depart before federal parliament resumes on 18 October.
Ryan, a Victorian Liberal senator and former frontbencher, announced in 2020 he planned to step away from federal politics at the next election.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, fellow Victorian Liberal Tony Smith, has also signalled his departure from public life after two decades in Canberra. Both Smith and Ryan are well regarded on both sides of the chamber.
Ryan, who has been a senator for 13 years, said the restricted travel arrangements played a role in his decision to vacate the presidency early.
He said he wanted to give colleagues an opportunity to select a new Senate president before the end of 2021. A number of government MPs anticipate that Scott Morrison will call an election early in 2022, shortly after the summer break.
Ryan said in a statement it had been a privilege to serve as Senate president for the past four years, and he appreciated his cordial relationships across party lines.
He said he was grateful to have had the support of government colleagues to take on the presiding officer’s role.
“We are a bicameral parliament and I have been fortunate to serve as Senate president along with my longtime friend Tony Smith as Speaker of the House – not only one of the great Speakers but someone who understands and respects the unique role of the Senate”.
At that time Ryan said he wanted the job because, as a former student and teacher of politics, he had always valued the concept of independent parliamentary checks and believed in the value of institutions, including one of the most powerful upper houses in the democratic world.
Ryan told Guardian Australia at that time he had always been a champion of his chamber, the Senate, and colleagues had encouraged him to step forward when Parry departed suddenly.
“I thought this was something I could do well.”