Seventy-two-year old parliament veteran Philip Ruddock has announced his retirement from politics to become Australia’s inaugural Special Envoy for Human Rights.

Ruddock, termed the Father of the House of Representatives, was appointed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as a Special Envoy for Human Rights.

“Mr. Ruddock will focus on advancing Australia’s human rights priorities of good governance, freedom of expression, gender equality, the rights of indigenous peoples, and national human rights institutions,” Bishop told The Australian.

Previous speculation about Mr Ruddock’s retirement has suggested that as a former Attorney-General, he could be nominated for a position as a judge. However, at 72, he is now too old to be appointed to either the NSW or the federal bench, The Australian reports.

In his new human rights role, Ruddock is expected to campaign for Australia to become part of the Human Rights Council (HRC), and promote Australia’s human rights record.

“Mr. Ruddock will actively promote Australia’s candidacy for membership of the Human Rights Council for the 2018–20 term. He will represent Australia at international human rights events and advocate our HRC candidacy in selected countries,” Bishop said.

Ruddock is thankful for the opportunity the government has given him. “Having been an executive member of the inaugural Parliamentary Amnesty Group some 40 years ago, that has driven my deep personal interest in these issues and has allowed me to develop a network of those dedicated to the advancement of human rights internationally. That passion remains unabated,” Ruddock said.

“I believe the role of Special Envoy for Human Rights complements my long term engagement in these areas and aligns with my ardently held beliefs that Australia has a strong ability to advance human rights on a global scale.”

Ruddock has been active in human rights work as he is a long-term member of Amnesty International and chair of parliamentary joint-committee on human rights.

Five Decades of Politics

The Guardian reports that Ruddock is the second longest-serving parliamentarian in Australia’s history. The longest sitting MP was first elected into federal politics in 1973.


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He held major positions in the government such as immigration minister. According to The Guardian, it is during his term when Ruddock extended mandatory detention and introduced temporary protection visas and offshore processing. He was also the architect of the Pacific Solution, a policy that takes refugees to neighbouring countries.

Ruddock will start working as special envoy while serving out the remainder of this term in parliament, but will not begin collecting a salary for the new position until he has left politics, The Guardian reports.