Disgraced Nationals MP Andrew Broad has claimed family pressure and the toll on his family were among the reasons for steeping aside from his safe western Victorian seat.
Mr Broad, speaking to the Sunraysia Daily, has talked about the paucity of time spent with his family as one of the pressures that led to him making the“ dumb mistake”.
But the member for Mallee who was caught up in the ‘Sugar Daddy’ scandal has also highlighted the vast size of the electorate which includes towns as diverse as Maryborough, Avoca and distant Mildura as being one of the pressures that have made the job difficult.
Still bruised from a very public downfall, Andrew Broad says he is leaving politics to "come out the other side stronger and better".
The scandal Mr Broad calls his "dumb mistake" has left the Nationals facing a tougher battle to retain one of their traditional strongholds than they would have planned for; his seat of Mallee now receiving far more attention than its 21 per cent margin would otherwise have commanded.
"I probably could have toughed it out and let the storm blow over, stepped back from the ministry and maybe could have won the seat ... but for what?" Mr Broad told Sunraysia Daily.
In December 2018, Mr Broad decided not to recontest his seat after women's magazine New Ideapublished an interview and texts from a woman he met in Hong Kong through a "sugar daddy" website.
Secondly, Mr Broad didn’t want to "walk home into an empty house" at the end of his career.
The 43-year-old, who has been an MP for almost six years, said his final parliamentary speech would acknowledge his mistakes, and that public life had taken a personal toll.
I think I’d be lucky to have spent 10 weeks at home last year
"That’s no excuse for meeting someone who wasn’t my wife and having dinner with her. I’m not saying it is (but) the job does have huge effects on family life."
Mr Broad recalls talking to fellow MPs who had dedicated time in their personal routines to spend with their families and half-jokingly suggested the vast Mallee electorate, which covers one third of the state, would be better to "job share".
He said constituents across the region often asked why he didn’t visit more often.
"So how the communities of Maryborough have anything in common with the communities of Mildura, or the community of Cohuna has anything in common with Beulah, I have no idea."
Mr Broad declined to comment on who should replace him and said it was "best" he didn’t attend the party pre-selection vote on January 19.
He does, however, agree his party needs to increase its number of female representatives.
"You get better policy if you have a greater diversity of life experience and that includes a diversity of gender ... (but) it still needs to be a person of great ability to do the job," he said.
At least one independent will mount a challenge for Mallee this year, while Mr Broad’s departure leaves his party open to a challenge from the Liberals.
"Usually the better candidate wins," Mr Broad said of contests between the coalition partners.
"I think if (the Liberals) put a Peta Credlin up, they’ll be in with a red hot shot but I don’t very much think we’ll see Peta Credlin run.
"I know Peta. She lives in Sydney and she very rarely comes to Canberra for Sky (television)."
Mr Broad argued the Nationals were still best placed to secure funding for much-needed infrastructure in regional areas, such as mobile phone towers.
"The difficulty you’ve got as an independent is you haven’t got the numbers to deliver that," he said. "You still need that hunt as a pack view. I think the Nats have got a long future."
Mr Broad admits he is relieved to be leaving politics but says he wants to secure funding for several projects before his career comes to an end.
I’ve got to be honest; I’m happy to be stepping away. The job had made me not as nice a person.
However, the 43-year-old intends to remain politically active until the election, with several applications for federal funding under consideration in what polls suggest will be the final months of the Morrison Government.
"We haven’t checked out, we haven’t knocked off," Mr Broad said. "I’ve got a job to do and that is to get the best outcome for people in our part of the world."
Mr Broad said he had been humbled by the response from constituents and had prioritised time with his family since he made the decision to leave politics.
"You find out who your friends are," he said. "People have been very gracious to me up here."