Senator Scullion this week weighed into the debate over the timing of Australia Day, reiterating his view that changing the date was not a major concern for the indigenous people he spoke with, while acknowledging January 26 marked the anniversary of the British “invasion”.
The indigenous affairs minister, who has held the portfolio for five years, will continue in the role until the election due in May.
It comes as former industrial relations minister Craig Laundy weighs whether to recontest his Sydney seat of Reid, and after human services minister Michael Keenan announced on Friday night that he was quitting to spend more time with his family.
Kelly O’Dwyer, minister for jobs, industrial relations and women, announced a week ago that she would not recontest her seat of Higgins in Melbourne’s inner south-east.
Ms O’Dwyer, a mother of two young children, cited difficulties balancing her family life with the gruelling demands of serving as a cabinet minister.
Senator Scullion said his path to public office had been unconventional and confirmed former prime minister John Howard’s characterisation of the Liberal-National Coalition as a “broad church”.
“The fact that it has allowed a bloke like me to sit around its Cabinet table shows just why it continues to be the party hardworking Australian families keep putting their trust and faith in,” he said.
“I was just an everyday fisherman and some time buffalo shooter and I raised my three beautiful children Sarah, Daniel and Luke on a fishing boat off the coast of Gove and North East Arnhem Land.”
Mr Keenan, the Human Services and Digital Transformation Minister, is also retiring for family reasons
“I have been an absent father in the lives of my children and now is the time for this to stop. With a newborn child – our family’s fourth – it is unworkable for my family,” Mr Keenan said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Keenan, who has been in politics for 15 years, said the decision became clear to him during the Christmas break.
The member for Stirling in Perth, Western Australia, described politics as a “proud vocation” but one that is also difficult and exhausting.
He insists he remains “resolutely optimistic” about the coalition’s prospects at the upcoming election.
“The government’s plan for a stronger economy is working. This is why I believe the coalition can and will win the next election,” he said.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mr Keenan has made an “outstanding contribution” to his community and to federal parliament.
“We are sad to see him go, but entirely understand and respect the reasons for his decision,” Senator Cormann said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Keenan has previously held the justice and counter-terrorism portfolios.
The next federal election is expected for May this year.