March 1, 2019 / 9:20 AM / a year ago

Australian ministers tumble out of politics as election looms

FILE PHOTO - Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, attends a news conference of an Australian Football League event in Shanghai, China May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo will not stand in elections due in May, a newspaper said on Friday, the latest high-profile resignation as opinion polls suggest Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s center-right government faces heavy defeat.

Morrison will need to hold on to all seats held by his coalition government, but his chances are weakened by a wave of incumbent lawmakers in marginal seats set to retire.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion announced his retirement last week after Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said he was stepping down. Minister for Jobs Kelly O’Dwyer also resigned.

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said last month she would not stand for re-election and there is media speculation Defence Minister Christopher Pyne will follow suit.

“After 17 years in parliament, I have taken the decision that it’s time to move on to something else,” Ciobo told The Australian newspaper.

The offices of the ministers and Morrison did not immediately respond to request for a comment by Reuters.

A Newspoll for The Australian newspaper showed the opposition Labor party retained a lead of 53 percent to 47 percent over the Liberal-National government last month, unchanged from the poll in December.

Reporting by Swati Pandey and Colin Packham

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