The NSW Nationals want to thank Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker MP for his years of service to the people of the Coffs Coast and Mid North Coast.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Hartsuyker announced he would retire at the next Federal Election, bringing to an end his six terms of service to the people of the Cowper Electorate.

A keen surfer and dedicated family man, Luke proudly ran The Clog Barn, a Coffs Harbour tourism business started by his father, before taking his passion for the region to the national stage in 2001.

Since being elected to office, Luke has proudly carried the banner of our Party for six Parliamentary terms while advocating for his constituents in Cowper, which takes in the Coffs and Mid North coasts from Lighthouse Beach to Korora, including Kempsey, Port Macquarie, and Coffs Harbour; all of these people have benefited from having solid Nationals representation, which goes back for 55 years.

NSW Nationals Chairman Bede Burke said it was not an insignificant achievement from Mr Hartsuyker.

“Luke Hartsuyker has not only delivered for his electorate, he’s left the seat in good shape for the future,” Mr Burke said. “He has successfully campaigned for upgrades to the Pacific Highway and a bypass for Coffs Harbour, ensuring visitors and locals can safely get around the electorate. He’s also served as Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and Assistant Minister for Employment, ensuring jobs for regional people were front and centre of policy decisions.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Nationals Leader Michael McCormack praised Mr Hartsuyker’s achievements for the Cowper Electorate during his 17 years as a local MP.

“Luke Hartsuyker’s advocacy for the people of Cowper has rightly focused on delivering the Pacific Highway the people of the Mid North Coast deserve,” Mr McCormack said. “The people of the Cowper Electorate put their faith in Luke Hartsuyker and he took their fight to Canberra. He continued to advocate as Labor Governments neglected the area and then helped get projects moving once The Nationals in Government got started fixing the Pacific Highway. Our recent budget commitment of $971 million in funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass is one of the final pieces in the Pacific Highway puzzle and will be a legacy of Luke’s work alongside NSW Nationals State MP Andrew Fraser over many years.”

Never forgetting his years as a small business owner, Luke has gone into bat for historic tax cuts, making competition laws fairer for small business and supporting farmers in the dairy and horticulture industries throughout the region. The Nationals in Government deliver for small businesses, for farmers and for regional communities throughout the Cowper Electorate, and our arguments were strengthened by having Luke’s common sense and practical small business experience in our team.

“Mr Hartsuyker’s work as Shadow Minister for Regional Communications helped shape the Government’s successful Mobile Blackspots Programme,” Mr McCormack said. “Communities throughout the Cowper Electorate and around the country are now connected like never before thanks to the work Luke undertook in opposition which set the foundations for the Mobile Blackspot Programme we have today. Like so many in the country and on the coast, Luke was sick of Labor’s inaction on mobile communications and thanks to that work, The Nationals in Government are on track to deliver 867 base stations by June 2019.”

The NSW Nationals know Luke will continue to be a local champion of the people of Cowper right up until the next election and we wish Luke, Irene, Ben and Paul all the best for the future and thank them for their commitment to Cowper.

“This is a fine record of service from a fine local member, who we are proud to call one of our own,” Mr Burke said. “Well done Luke, we wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.”

Luke served as Chair of the Education and Vocational Training Committee, producing the “Top of the Class” report into teacher education, from 2004 to 2007. He has also been a member of the Ageing Committee, Economics Committee, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee and most recently the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network. On his re-election to the Parliament in 2007, Luke was appointed to the Shadow Ministry with responsibility for Consumer Affairs, Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law. In 2010, he took on the role of Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Youth and Sport and the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives.