Above: NSW Premier Mike Baird with Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, who is now a contender for the role of 45th Premier. All photos: Facebook.
After 10 years in public life and three as NSW Premier, Mike Baird’s calling it a day.
In an emotional speech the outgoing premier confirmed that the unexpected announcement spelt the end of his time in politics.
In response to journalist questioning he said he was not “cutting and running” but that it had been a long journey to reach this point, and a tough decision.
He cited both personal reasons, as well as implying that he was unlikely to lead his party to a 2019 victory.
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“Time to Hand Over to a New Premier”
“As we approach the half-way mark of this term and indeed six years into government, it’s time for us to refresh,” he told a media conference. “To reset our goals towards the 2019 election and beyond. With a lot of deliberation with those I love the most and my dear friends, it has been clear to me that this refresh won’t include me.
“I strongly believe now is the time to hand over to a new premier to ensure that the focus on 2019 and beyond continues to set the agenda. So today I can confirm that I am retiring from politics.”
He said he believed his departure was for the best.
“In my maiden speech I spoke about wanting to come into public life to make a difference,” he said. “I was frustrated by what I saw: a lack of action, and I was determined to try and get things done. I said many times I didn’t want to become a ‘career politician’, I wanted to go as hard as I could for as long as I could, and then step aside. Well today I am making good on that pledge.
“After 10 years in public life, three years as treasurer and three years as premier, I think now is the right time to do this.”
Pain Over Parents’ Ill Health & Time Away from Family
Pausing to swallow tears, Mr Baird spoke of the “strong personal cost” of public life, something he’d felt keenly in recent months.
“My father and my mother and my sister are going through very serious health challenges, and to be honest, at times I have been in pain [over] not being able to spend the time that I should. This will change today.”
He said he wanted to make his children a greater priority, with daughters Kate and Laura facing milestones this year – the HSC and a wedding – while he was looking forward to coaching his son Luke’s soccer team.
He called his wife Kerryn his “lifeline”. “She has been so supportive on this journey. I’ve been ‘punching above my weight’ for coming up to 27 years and it’s been such a joy. She’s done such a phenomenal job as first lady.”
Leaving a “Great Team” Behind
Mr Baird went on to list his government’s achievements, including building infrastructure, hospitals, signing up to the Gonski education reforms to benefit disadvantaged children, and lifting the NSW economy from its ‘basket case’ status to now having billions of dollars in surpluses and strong growth.
Thanking his staff and the Liberal Party, he said he believes he is leaving behind a strong team.
“NSW will have a new premier but that premier will complete what we’ve started,” he said. “I’m very confident in the team that will come after me… because of the policies that we put in place.”
“Thanks for the Privilege, NSW”
The premier thanked his NSW supporters for putting faith in him.
“I’ve never been prouder than the first day I walked into parliament and had that privilege of my entire community at my back as I sought to fight for them and represent them in the chamber,” he said. “I’ve met so many amazing people, it’s such an incredible place and I want to thank them for the support and confidence they’ve given in me. It’s something I will cherish always.
“Thank you that in 2015 you chose hope over fear. To be premier of the best state in the best country in the world is something not to be taken for granted—and it’s not. I want to thank you for the unbelievable privilege it’s been.”
- Watch Mike Baird’s sit-down chat with Hope 103.2’s Dwayne Jeffries.