The decision made by former Victorian minister Philip Dalidakis to resign from parliament this week, was reportedly a shock for many.
The 43-year-old Greek Australian was elected in the first Andrews government in 2014 as the upper house representative for the Southern Metropolitan Region and soon after was appointed small business minister. He held the portfolio – including the trade and investment, innovation and digital economy ministries – until the recent Labor government reshuffle for equal gender representation in the cabinet saw him stepping down from the frontbench.
On Monday, after Mr Dalidakis had officially tendered his resignation, it was confirmed he landed a senior position at Australia Post, where he starts unofficially from next week. His contract officially begins on July 1.
If anything, the former high-profile Labor MP has made it clear that quitting politics was not a whimsical decision.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Mr Dalidakis reiterates the conscious decision emerged from reassessing personal priorities.
“As I said in my statement, for the last 6 months having stepped aside from the cabinet has given me an opportunity to reflect on what I was wanting to do in relation to time with my family,” he says explaining that while serving in parliament missing out on family events, such as parent teacher interviews and the kids’ sport finals was the norm.
“Having missed far too many [events] in the last four and a half years I made a decision to go back into the private sector[…]There’s no doubt that working in the private sector provides a greater deal of flexibility and also work life balance than being a member of parliament and a public figure does.”
Responding to comments linking his resignation to losing his cabinet role 6 months ago, Mr Dalidakis says the only relevance lies in that not being a cabinet minister gave him the opportunity to “reflect on what was important to me”.
“Stepping away from the ministry was the right thing to do because it was a policy I believed in and I continue to think the Premier’s desire to have a cabinet 50-50 gender diverse is important”.
And while prioritising his children was the main factor driving his decision, he acknowledges the professional opportunity presented to him was also a motive.
“I’ve been afforded a great opportunity at Australia post and these types of positions don’t become available very often so to re-enter the private sector in such a senior executive position is also quite an exciting opportunity for me”.
Mr Dalidakis will assume the role of executive general manager of corporate services at Australia Post.
According to the postal carrier’s 2018 annual report the most recent predecessor of the senior position, Christopher Blake, was paid $1.5 million that year.
Meanwhile, Mr Dalidakis’ resignation is said to have caused a headache for the Andrews government, given that it came a week before the winter break and amidst government efforts to garner support for passing reforms on the state’s fire services under the CFA bill.
But the former Labor MP is adamant his departure will not make a difference in the outcome.
“The simple mathematics of the vote when I was there there were 21 votes out of 40 that were supporting the legislation. Without me being there, [it’s] 20 out of 39 so there’s still an absolute majority in terms of support for that bill.”
Once submitted before Governor Linda Dessau on Monday, Mr Dalidakis’ resignation became effective immediately, which is standard protocol in the Victorian parliament.
Asked about why he didn’t hand in his resignation a few days later, considering his official start at Australia Post is not until 1 July, he points to the administrative processes required when exiting parliament, including tasks such as meeting with the department of parliamentary services and going through a checking process with the asset register.
“There is a lot entailed with actually leaving the parliament that takes a number of days[…] there is a range of things you must account for and processes you need to go through from an administrative perspective.”
Following his visit to the Governor’s office on Monday, Mr Dalidakis met with Premier Daniel Andrews to notify him in person about his decision.
Mr Andrews thanked the former Labor MP for his service in a succinct public statement that afternoon.
“The Premier has led the re-election of the government last year, I think he’s done a marvellous job and I look forward to him continuing to do that, and of course being […]a strong supporter of our multicultural community which includes a significant part played by the Greek community”, Mr Dalidakis concluded.