Former MP Liz is at peace with retirement
THE Cunninghams are looking forward to long, happy years of retirement tending to their property, visiting their family and just being part of the community.
Many reasons led to Liz Cunningham not running for parliament again, and being sacked as the chair on the Crime and Misconduct Committee had influenced her decision to retire.
>> Grab a copy of Thursday's Observer for a 12-page tribute to Liz
But while Queensland's Domestic Violence Taskforce, of which Mrs Cunningham is one of the eight members, has a report due at the end of the month, she is still working hard for the community.
She said she was "at peace" with her decision to retire, both personally and with the wider Gladstone community.
"This is a really good community and I want what is best for them," she said.
Travel, cooking and photography will also keep Mrs Cunningham busy.
"I have a grandparent rule of no more than 600km away - one day's trip," she said.
"All of my kids bar one has broken that rule.
"One's in Manchester (UK), one's in Tassie and the other's in Brisbane."
John Cunningham said: "I've never been to England, so that's going to be really lovely to go and visit."
He said he was looking forward to attaching himself to one of the town's community groups, such as the Men's Shed.
"They do wonderful work and I'd love to be involved, but first things first," he said.
"With the amount of catch-up on 10 acres, it might be a while until I can attach myself to something."
"It's 12 acres," Mrs Cunningham corrected her husband with a smile. "He doesn't like to count the extra two."
She said she wanted to keep her options open, but she didn't see them leaving.
"We live out the back of Calliope. We love where we are and there's no plans to change that," she said.
JOHN Cunningham moved to Gladstone with his wife Liz in 1978.
They met in Sydney - he a Tasmanian, she a Queenslander - and he thinks it was love at first sight.
"I've had 39 years to think about this. I think it was love at first sight, but that has crystallised," he said.
"I can still remember what she was wearing that day."
John worked at Queensland Alumina Ltd after they came to Gladstone, and retired last year.
He said unlike his wife's retirement, which was still tapering down - she still has a lot of paperwork to deal with - he left his workplace in November.
He said he was led into the role of husband to a politician "quite gently".
"We were quite young at the time, a mum and dad, doing what needed to be done," he said.
"When we got our second rate notice in '85 and it almost doubled, she said, 'That's not acceptable, I'm not putting up with that' and she was off to the ratepayers."
Mrs Cunningham said she was lucky to have him.
"I don't think many blokes would have put up with this sort of a lifestyle for long," she said.
"My husband John and my family have been incredibly supportive."