At the peak of his success, Mike Baird quits politics

By Vijay Badhwar

NSW Premier Mike Baird made a shock announcement to resign from politics this morning on January 19, in a hurriedly convened media conference. Deputy Leader of the NSW Liberal Party and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian will act as premier until the new leader is elected in a ballot.

It was an emotional departure for Mr Baird who has been one of the best premiers for NSW. With him at the helm, NSW has come a long way with lowest unemployment rate, development that is envy of other states and excellent leadership. He was very much loved, especially by younger generation, as he loved social media. Mr Baird’s Facebook post, when he fell from stairs and hurt his back, flooded with likes, his followers charmed with his unpretentious common touch.

Leadership was virtually thrust upon Mike Baird at the sudden resignation of Barry O’Farrell. But he stepped up to ride the challenge, took decisions which, he said, were sometimes unpopular but benefitted the people. He was against the concept of career politicians and urged more people to have a similar DNA to serve and join the stream of public service.

Mr Baird took the opportunity to privatise electricity when the Opposition was in complete disarray and took upon himself the task of rebuilding infrastructure in the state when it was badly needed. As nearly 40 per cent of new migrants settle in NSW, the state badly needed respite from road congestions and demands for lot more new accommodation. These projects, under the theme ”˜Rebuild NSW’, have raised a lot of controversy but will be a hallmark of Mr Baird’s career.

Last year, some decisions were setbacks in Mr Baird’s immense popularity ”“ backflip on banning greyhound racing, amalgamation of councils and lock out laws. He was probably misplaced to have overlooked the affect on people’s livelihoods dependent on Greyhound racing but his other decisions were bold and rational to reduce rort and crime.

Mr Baird would have befitted as Australia’s prime minister; it’s a loss that he is leaving politics altogether, probably for personal reasons to look after an ailing mother, father and a sister. Only he will know the pressures on him.

The numbers forecast Ms Berejiklian to be the next NSW Premier. She is hard working and a testament to the success of multiculturalism in Australia being of Armenian background. But to fit Mr Baird’s shoes of charm, it may be a hard task for her.


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