Federal Labor MP Mike Kelly has confirmed his retirement from federal politics, triggering a by-election in the NSW seat of Eden Monaro.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger:

“The highest praise one can be given by the Jewish community is to be regarded as a mensch – a person of honour and integrity; Mike Kelly is a mensch and a great friend to our community.

After a lifetime of service to his country from the sands of Somalia to fighting Daesch in Iraq to the hallways of Canberra, he has served with distinction. He has always been a strong voice against bigotry, fearlessly standing for pluralism and harmony. This has not always been to his advantage, and his office in Queanbeyan was daubed with anti-Jewish graffiti more than once.

He worked hard to achieve a balanced policy on Israel within NSW Labor, and in large measure due to his efforts, the policy adopted by NSW Labor and nationally, while far from perfect, was testament to his support and our close friends in the Labor movement. For that we are eternally grateful. The absence of his experience and judgment on national security and counter-terrorism issues, together with his expertise in defence and foreign policy, will be a great loss to the Australian body politic.

Mike Kelly will be missed by people across the Federal Parliament and country, not the least by his many friends and supporters in the Australian Jewish community.”