Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Bottom line - Mike Baird resigned before he could be pushed

This is Mike Baird’s announcement of his immediate resignation as NSW Premier and intended resignation as the Member for Manly.

Ex-investment banker Mike Baird entered the NSW Parliament on 24 March 2007 as a Liberal Party member of the Opposition.

Once the Coalition won government he first became Treasurer (2011), then Minister for Industrial Relations (2012), until becoming Premier, Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Western Sydney in 2014 then jettisoning Infrastructure from his portfolio list in 2015.

He spent less than three years as premier and in that time his popularity with voters has markedly declined on the back of a sustained push to privatise government assets, the implementation of bad planning legislation which restricted a community’s ability to resist inappropriate development, poor funding decisions which impacted on women fleeing domestic violence and unpopular policy choices such as restricting opening hours for bars and clubs but not casinos, the controversial attempt to ban greyhound racing, forced local government amalgamations and the botched $16.8 billion WestConnex plan along with its compulsory acquisitions  – to name just a few.

The fact that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards a decision to curb the growth of coal seam gas exploration and mining was also a mark against his name in many rural and regional areas, while scandals reduced confidence in the state-run public hospital system on his watch.

So it is no surprise that Baird decided to jump when an opportunity presented itself rather than be pushed unceremoniously from the premier's chair.

The fault lines in the NSW Coalition were already beginning to publicly surface when a number of National MPS put a motion to conference for a gasfield-free Northern Rivers in 2015, crossed the floor rather than support the abolition of greyhound racing in 2016 and were joined in disunity by certain Liberal backbenchers who began to mutter against excessive land clearing laws and hospital funding that same year - now in 2017 we see the Nationals pushing against further council amalgamations.

ABC News, 20 January 2017:

New South Wales premier-in-waiting Gladys Berejiklian is likely to be the state's next premier, but she is already facing pressure from the Deputy Premier to scrap council mergers in regional areas.
Ms Berejiklian is the only person to put her hand up for the top job, after Transport Minster Andrew Constance bowed out of the race today and offered her his full support.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro has used Premier Mike Baird's resignation yesterday as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean for the coalition.
This includes a demand to end forced council amalgamations in regional NSW.
The Nationals leader, who took over from Troy Grant in November after the party lost the previously safe seat of Orange, said they would no longer be taken for granted.
"We will no longer be forcing local government mergers and that will be the first course of business," Mr Barilaro said.
"I want to make it absolutely clear to the incoming leader of the NSW Liberals and that is that the NSW Nationals no longer will be taken for granted.
"Today I draw the line in the sand that the NSW Nationals won't just accept the crumbs from the Liberal party table."

Last year there was speculation that Baird would retire in 2018 ahead of the March 2019 state election.

It’s highly doubtful that he would have made it to that March general election without a leadership challenge and it looks suspiciously like he finally recognised the no-win position he finds himself in with the electorate.

There is nothing left but for him to do but collect his lucrative parliamentary pension and perks then move on to a second go at a private sector corporate career. 

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