Video: Decision not to run 'extremely hard', MP says
BEING sacked as the chair of the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Committee in 2013 was a major turning point for Liz Cunningham and her role as the independent member for Gladstone.
At the time of the sacking, Mrs Cunningham told The Observer she would not force a by-election, but she was seriously considering her political future.
The committee had been investigating Crime and Misconduct Commission chair Dr Ken Levy after earlier accusing him of misleading the parliament.
Reflecting yesterday, Mrs Cunningham said that event was one of the major influences in her decision to step down.
But, she said, it wasn't the only reason.
"The former government and current government... have not made decisions that have helped the (Gladstone) community," she said.
But, she said she was "at peace", personally and with the wider Gladstone community.
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"This is a really good community and I want what is best for them," she said.
"I believe (the Gladstone community) is truly amazing. They're energetic, visionary and they face challenges. It's been an adventure and I've met so many people both locally, and interstate," she said.
The 1995-98 years were her most memorable, when the independent member - who claims she had one of the smallest offices in the state - held the balance of power.
"In hindsight, I saw the good, the bad and the ugly in that time," she said.
"I've seen more and more political parties putting the party structure as the priority instead of the benefit to the community, when the priority should be how can we strengthen the state and make it better for families."
She said the timing of the election was thoughtless, with people still in holiday-mode and getting children ready for school.
Yesterday, talking to The Observer, Ms Cunningham was brought to tears as she thought about the community she would no longer be serving.
She said her decision not to run again was "extremely hard".
"Little kids at school ask what do you have to do to become a politician," she said.
"There's a couple of things - you don't need a degree but you need to love people and you need to love reading and talking to people about others' problems. That's all it is."
"I was given a lettuce at the open day of the St Stephen's Kindy," she laughed.
"By the time I left, I gave out to each of the children a lettuce leaf. By the end of it, I was left with a stalk."
Mrs Cunningham was a Calliope Shire councillor for eight years. She and her husband John still live in Calliope.
"I can't see us leaving. We live out the back of Calliope. We love where we are and there are no plans to change that," she said.
"I want to keep my options open because I still have a really strong connection to the community, both locally and in the state."