An emotional Mike Baird: 'There was great personal cost'
FRONTING journalists in Sydney, tearful Premier Mike Baird has reflected on his maiden speech, saying he never had any desire to be a career politician.
"As we approach the halfway mark of this term, and indeed six years into government, it's time for us to refresh, to reset our goals towards the 2019 election and beyond," he said.
"As I've reflected on this refresh, with a lot of deliberation, and with those I love the most and my dear friends, it has been clear to me that this refresh won't include me."
He said it was time for his colleagues to focus on the next election, due in 2019.
Mr Baird said his time in the public life had come at a "high personal cost".
"I've probably felt that more than any other time in the past few months," he said.
"My father and my mother and my sister are going through a very serious health challenge and, to be honest, at times I have been in pain not being able to spend the time that I should.
Mr Baird paused to compose himself.
"... And this... This will change today."
Mr Baird has used his farewell speech to focus on his government's achievements, saying the state was "a basket case" when the O'Farrell Government came to power.
He has touched on his government's work signing up for the Gonski scheme, health and hospital investments, lowering unemployment, and highest number of house approvals nationally.
"When I set out ont he journey, I was frustrated on why NSW was behind the rest of the country," he said.
"I was frustrated that nothing ever got built, and I wanted to make a difference.
"As I look on that now, I strongly believe that we have.
"We have made a difference."
He finished his speech by thanking his Manly constituents, the Liberal Party, staff and colleagues.
But the most emphatic thanks went to his family.
"I also want to thank my family here today. They're a pretty amazing bunch," he said.
"My wife, Karen, who has been my lifeline.
"She has been so supportive on this journey. I love her dearly.
"And, look, um, I just couldn't be prouder of having her - I think the most incredible woman, you know the saying, 'You're punching above your weight', well I have been punching above my weight for nearly 27 years and it has been a joy to have her, she has done such a phenomenal job at First Lady, and I thank you.
"My kids, I won't embarrass them, I promised I wouldn't! But! There are things that we have to do this year. It's an important time.
"We have my daughter, Kate, who has her HSC, so she's really excited about the opportunity of me helping her with her HSC. Not really!
"My daughter, Laura, is getting married - I feel too young to be a grandfather, I've made that very clear.
"And my son, Luke, who has always wanted me to coach his soccer team - I'm not much of a soccer player but that is something I will be doing. I love my kids.
"Like any father in the state, you're so proud and I'm incredibly proud of my wonderful kids and family."
Mr Baird finished by thanking the people of New South Wales and giving a vote of confidence to whoever replaces him will lead a "great government doing great things".
My family's illness was not the sole reason, but...
Mr Baird said that while there had been "policy issues" for the past few months, the personal circumstances were "much tougher".
"You know, my father has gone through open-heart surgery. He's got a long road back to recovery, but he had become the primary career for my mother and she's just gone to 24-hour care," he said.
"She's got muscular dystrophy. She is losing function in everything, basically.
"It's very tough to watch as a son. And it's not just me.
"There are money hundreds of thousands of people who go through similar things. My sister's had a reoccurrence of cancer.
"So I was in hospital with her last week.
"You know, those personal things obviously impact you and the nature of this job makes it tough to be able to support as much as you want.
"So, as I said, the package of this is pretty clear."
LATHAM: Baird had a God complex, it was time to go.
Mark Latham told News Corp Australia Mike Baird developed a 'God complex' and it's good to see him go.
The former federal leader of the Australian Labor Party said the NSW Premier was "totally out of touch" on a range of issues.
"In a whole range of issues, Baird was acting more like a Greens leader of NSW," Mr Latham told Sky News.
"It's good to seem him go."
Mr Latham said Baird's decision on the Greyhound industry and the Safe Schools program were just some of the reasons he was out of touch with the general public.
"People were who didn't know anything about Greyhounds were coming up to me and saying 'Has Government really got the right to do that?' Has Government really got the power to wipe out a whole industry, throw a whole bunch of Australians on the scrap heap just with the stroke of a pen," Mr Latham said.
"They were quite shocked - not Greyhound people, but just the general public were quite shocked that someone could be so authoritarian.
"Quite frankly, Mike Baird developed a God complex.
"This bloke thought he was a godly figure in NSW, he could ban this, he could decree that and it's not the way for a Liberal to conduct, for any leader to conduct himself in the public sphere."
OPPOSITION: We need a new direction, not just a new face.
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has pulled his punches after the resignation of Premier Mike Baird, saying the Liberal leader had performed a "substantial service" to the state.
Mr Foley said Labor's job won't change with a change of Premier, saying the government needed to shift direction, not simply shift leader.
"There is overcrowding in schools, declining academic standards, the gutting of TAFE, soaring hospital waiting lists and a housing affordability crisis.
"This government frankly needs more than a new premier, it needs a new direction."
Baird resigns: NSW Premier to quit top job and Parliament
NEW South Wales Premier Mike Baird will quit the state's job and leave Parliament.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Mr Baird said there would be a Liberal party-room meeting and a spill of leadership positions next week.
After that, he would resign from Parliament, "effective immediately".
"Serving as Premier of NSW has been a tremendous honour, but I have made clear from the beginning that I was in politics to make a difference, and then move on," he said.
"After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived."
Mr Baird said he was "immensely proud" of the work done by himself and former Premier Barry O'Farrell.
He said their work boosted jobs, rebuilt the economy and "unleashed an infrastructure boom" in both Sydney and in regional areas.
Daily Telegraph's political editor Andrew Clennell writes on Twitter that Mr Baird's parents have been ill, and that has guided the outgoing Premier's decision after a decade in public life.
I'm retiring from politics. It's been an honour to serve you, NSW. pic.twitter.com/eFInOqoC19— Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) January 18, 2017
Mr Baird's exit statement made no mention of his government's more contentious policies, including the short-lived shutdown of the state's entire greyhound industry, a policy the government would ultimately abandon after a sustained and fierce backlash.
Mr Baird has also faced heavy criticism for his government's part in Sydney's lockout laws, rules that have been blamed for destroying the city's vibrant nightlife.
Unlike other politicians who have left positions mid-term, Mr Baird makes no mention of stepping down to focus on family.
But it will be a big year for the outgoing politician.
On January 8, Mr Baird told followers on Facebook that he would walk his eldest daughter Laura down the aisle, when she weds this year.
"It feels as if only yesterday I was cradling Laura in my arms," he wrote.
"A reminder for all that time as a parent just goes too quickly, and every day is one to savour."
Mr Baird became premier after Mr O'Farrell resigned over an ICAC scandal in 2014, and went on to lead the Liberal-National Coalition to victory the following year.
Mr Baird has been the member for Manly since 2007.