Also, she wanted to try for a third child and at 41, needs the best opportunity for IVF to succeed.

“I no longer want to consistently miss out on seeing my children when they wake up in the morning or go to bed at night and I want to know that when I am around, my time is not constantly disrupted.

“There is another very personal reason. Like so many other families, our journey to parenthood has not been straightforward.”

Ms O’Dwyer replaced her old boss Peter Costello in Higgins in a byelection in 2009.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was with Ms O’Dwyer when she made her announcement in Melbourne.

 Luis Enrique Ascui

The seat was supposed to be safe but is considered at risk at the election from a backlash by progressive voters. Ms O’Dwyer said she was “incredibly confident” the party would hold the seat.

Labor polled 550 voters in the seat in December and was leading on a two-party-prefered basis by 52.2 per cent to 47.8 per cent. Its primary vote was 37.5 per cent, which was 21 percentage points higher than at the federal election. The Liberal vote was down 11 points to 40.4 per cent, the Greens were down 12 points to 12.2 per cent and”others” were on 9.9 per cent.

Ms O’Dwyer’s departure, albeit it for personal reasons, is a blow for the government which is struggling to retain or attract women and Ms O’Dwyer was a leading advocate for females in the party.

She is the latest in a series of Liberal women to announce she will not be contesting the election but she is also the latest in a number of MPs to quit because of family pressures. These include Labor’s Kate Ellis, Tim Hammond and Jacinta Collins..

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was with Ms O’Dwyer when she made her announcement in Melbourne.

He supported her decision and said she would stay in cabinet until the election.

“I support her choice. I support all women’s choices,’ he said.

He advocated her being replaced by a woman, as did Ms O’Dwyer.

Straight away, speculation swirled around Jess Wilson, a Business Council of Australia director and former adviser to Josh Frydenberg.

Earlier this week, Ms O’Dwyer attracted the ire of some colleagues when she advocated that the Future Fund double as a default superannuation fund.

After state Liberals were trounced in her home state of Victoria in November, Ms O’Dwyer told colleagues the Liberal party was regarded as homopohobic, anti-women and deniers of climate change.

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