Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton has announced he will not contest the seat at the next election.

Mr Coulton, who was first elected to parliament in 2007, will have served as a Member of the House of Representatives for almost 17 years once he retires.

The vast electorate starts from Gwydir, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Warrumbungle shires and covers western NSW.

Mr Coulton served as shadow parliamentary secretary from 2007 to 2010 and Nationals’ chief whip in the House of Representatives from 2010 to 2016.

Following the 2016 election, he was elected Deputy Speaker, a role he held until February 2018 and then Assistant Minister for Trade and Investment from 2018 to 2020.

Mr Coulton served as Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government in the Scott Morrison-led government from May 2019 to February 2020, and then Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, again in a Morrison government, from February 2020 to July 2021.

Mr Coulton announced his retirement with “mixed emotions”.

“It has been an incredible honour to represent the people of the Parkes electorate for more than 16 years, but the time has come for me to step aside,” he said.

“I’ve spent the past 16 years travelling hundreds of thousands of kilometres across my electorate, getting to know the strong and vibrant communities I represent.

“It has been a great privilege and I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve over that time.

“But it’s time for a fresh face to take up the baton and I’m looking forward to the members of The Nationals in the Parkes electorate finding a suitable replacement who can continue to provide strong representation in Canberra.

“In the meantime, I will continue to proudly represent this wonderful electorate with the utmost enthusiasm until the next election.”

State Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall praised Mr Coulton’s dedication.

“Mark Coulton is without doubt the hardest-working and dedicated local MP I have ever had the pleasure of working with or come across,” Mr Marshall said.

“I congratulate Mark on his 16-plus years serving the communities of the Parkes electorate.

“He has set the benchmark for commitment and duty to a vast and diverse rural electorate, covering tens of thousands of kilometres by road each year to ensure every community – large, small and remote – has access to their local Member of Parliament.

“Together with wife Robyn, Mark will leave behind an enviable record of achievement and service, vigorously speaking up and speaking out in Canberra on behalf of the people of rural and regional Australia, especially those who often feel they do not have a voice at all.

“I thank Mark for his selfless dedication to the community. It has been a pleasure to work alongside him. He is deeply respected and will be genuinely missed by his electorate.

“Congratulations on a stellar career Mark and all the very best for your future with Robyn and your family in the next chapter of your life.”

Former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Mr Coulton had always taken a common-sense approach to issues.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said Mr Coulton’s unwavering dedication to his principles and the people across Parkes had shaped the party and the nation for the better.

“Your advocacy has helped to improve the lives of so many and shaped a better future for regional Australia,” he said.

The next election, if including the half-Senate, will need to be held before May next year.

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