“It’s now time to focus on my family, who I have spent so much time away from.”
Mr Laundy, a former publican in his family hotel business, entered Parliament in 2013 when he won the Strathfield-based seat of Reid from Labor. Mr Turnbull made him an assistant minister in 2016 and then promoted him to Minister for Small Business the following year.
He spent most of last year’s leadership coup bunkered down with Mr Turnbull, and quit the frontbench in the aftermath. He said the events of that week took a “massive toll” on him and described it as “the worst of politics”.
Mr Laundy, 48, made few reflections on the state of politics in a statement confirming his decision to retire, emphasising his personal reasons for leaving the job.
“Over the past 12 months my family have faced a number of challenges, and as a father, husband and son, I’ve made the difficult decision to quit politics to put them first,” he said.
“This was never just a job to me. It was an opportunity to serve the electorate that my family has called home for four generations.”
Mr Laundy thanked his Coalition colleagues, “who welcomed this western Sydney publican with open arms into the world of politics, a world which was very unusual to me”.
“At a time where the vast majority of Australians see politics as fiercely divided, the irony is, I’ve made friendships that I believe will be lifelong on both sides of the chamber, and am extremely proud of that,” he said.
Mr Laundy informed his local electorate conference of his decision on Friday, and has also informed the Prime Minister.
Many Liberal strategists regard the seat of Reid as a lost cause without Mr Laundy, who increased his margin at the last election and held the seat with a 4.7 per cent buffer.
Mr Morrison, who has been searching for a star candidate to replace Mr Laundy, was dealt a blow at the weekend when former NSW deputy police commissioner Nick Kaldas declined to run.
Locals likely to put their hand up for preselection – if there is one – include outgoing NSW minister Pru Goward’s chief-of-staff Simon Fontana, NSW Waratahs government relations manager Natalie Baini and her sister Tanya Baini, a senior manager at Coca Cola.
In heading for the exit, Mr Laundy follows half a dozen ministerial colleagues who have already announced their departures: Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Nigel Scullion, Steve Ciobo, Michael Keenan and Kelly O’Dwyer.
Mr Laundy’s departure also represents a further thinning of the Liberals’ moderate ranks, which will impact the party’s policy direction and ministerial make-up after the election.
Mr Laundy had been counselled to stay in politics by Mr Morrison and former Liberal prime minister John Howard. This week, Mr Turnbull said he had also maintained regular contact with Mr Laundy but noted he was perfectly entitled to call it quits if he so wished.
Michael Koziol is a political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.