AUSTRALIAN politicians may be breathing a little easier after famed political editor Laurie Oakes announced his retirement.

The Walkley Award-winning journalist has spent 50 years chasing this nation's politicians with the hard-hitting questions, breaking news and offering unparalleled analysis.

But no more.

"To pinch an election slogan - it's time," Oakes told Nine.

"I've been reporting politics since 1965. I've been in the Canberra Press Gallery for 48 and a half years.

"I've been the Nine Network's political editor since December the 1st, 1984 - the day of that year's federal election. And I'm about to turn 74."

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A trusted face on many election night, Oakes has crossed swords with some of the biggest names in Australian politics - Howard, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating.

And he has the scars to prove it.

"The story that caused the biggest stink, I suppose, was in 1980 when the entire Budget was leaked to me," Oakes told Today.

"I met a contact in a hotel carpark on the Sunday morning.

"He handed over the Budget speech and gave me 15 minutes to read it.

"That evening (then Treasurer John) Howard was at home with toddler daughter Melanie on his lap watching cartoons on TV.

"Then the news started and I came up blowing every detail of his Budget speech."

Oakes graduated from Sydney University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts, joined the Daily Mirror and took over their state rounds in 1965.

By the age of 25 he was the bureau chief in Canberra for the Melbourne Sun-Pictorial.

Oakes then joined Channel Ten in 1975 and five years later he came to the Nine Network, where he became an institution in the Canberra bureau.

Oakes' last day on air with Nine will be August 18.

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