By Colin MacGillivray
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan has encouraged her successor to continue advocating for infrastructure projects including the Kilmore-Wallan bypass after last week announcing she would not seek re-election in November.
Ms Ryan, who has represented Euroa in the Victorian Legislative Assembly since the seat was created in 2014, will step away from politics after eight years.
Ms Ryan was elected deputy leader of the Victorian Nationals after entering parliament, becoming the first woman appointed to a leadership position in the party at state or federal level, and is the current shadow minister in the water, public transport and roads, and gaming and liquor regulation portfolios.
She has been a popular local member and was one of the few Liberal-Nationals coalition MPs returned to the Victorian Parliament with an increased majority at the 2018 election.
Ms Ryan said she hoped her legacy in the electorate would be a positive one.
“We’ve made some great gains along the way, like finally getting an investment to improve signalling on the Seymour [train] line and new trains coming for the line,” she said.
“There are projects I had hoped I would see resolved before I left politics, the most pressing being the Kilmore-Wallan bypass. I hope whoever succeeds me continues to carry that project forward as a matter of priority and urgency.
“My advice … would be to always put the community first and listen to what the community is saying. There is no more important thing for an MP than to use their mouth and ears in the proportion in which they were given – which is two ears, one mouth.”
Ms Ryan said with a toddler and another baby expected soon, she would seek a job that offered greater flexibility, but had no qualms about the demands of Parliament.
“I think the job is demanding for anybody. I’m not complaining – I knew what I was signing up for and I’ve loved the last eight years,” she said.
“Going forward I wouldn’t be surprised if we see people doing shorter stints [in parliament] and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.”
Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh paid tribute to Ms Ryan after she announced her intention to step down.
“Steph has an unmatched passion, loyalty and dedication to her communities,” he said.
“When she was elected in 2014, at 28 years old, she was the youngest MP in the parliament. As a testament to her strong local advocacy, she was re-elected in 2018 on an increased vote.
“Steph has always been driven by a strong sense of integrity and justice which has carried through in her shadow ministerial responsibilities.”
With nominations for a Nationals candidate for Euroa open until Friday next week, Ms Ryan said she was confident there would be no shortage of qualified people willing to take on the job.
“More and more women are going to come through into both the Parliament and positions of leadership and I think that’s a really good thing,” she said.
“We have a 100-year history in Victoria. We are the oldest political party in the state and we have maintained our relevance by being intensely focused on and in touch with our local communities.”