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May 16, 2022

Former Byron mayor to resign from parliament

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Greens state MP and former Byron mayor Jan Barham.
Greens state MP and former Byron mayor Jan Barham.

Greens MLC Jan Barham, a former mayor of Byron Shire, announced last night that she would be resigning from the NSW parliament next year to care for her elderly mother.

Ms Barham became the first Greens mayor to be popularly elected in 2004 after joining the council in 1999. She served a second term as mayor after being elected in 2008.

Ms Barham announced her intention to resign during last night’s sitting of the parliament.

She spoke of the pressures of being an elected representative for 17 years, and the deaths of close friends and family in recent times which resulted in her taking a leave of absence from the parliament since the winter recess.

‘The last 5½ years have been tough,’ she told her parliamentary colleagues.

‘I came into this place while still serving as mayor of Byron Shire Council.

‘I did the two jobs simultaneously and that was a little silly and extremely exhausting.

‘With the council elections in September 2012, I thought my life would become easier and that I would cope better, but within six months my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, aged 59. I turned 58 last week.

‘In the last five years, eleven friends aged between 53 and 60 have died. I include both my brother and the late Dr John Kaye in that list.’

Ms Barham said it was time to step aside and ‘make way for someone who has the energy, enthusiasm and capacity to do the job’.

‘I am proud of the work I have done and the things I have achieved working within this parliament and in my north coast community, but it is time to make some changes.’

She also said her mother was a motivating factor in her decision to resign.

‘She is 87, living at home alone and does not want to go to a nursing home, and I do not blame her,’ Ms Barham said.

‘I have been a member of two inquiries that looked into the issue of aged care—the registered nurses in nursing homes and elder abuse—and I know how important it is that the people we love are cared for in their later years.

‘I feel now is the time for me to take on more of that responsibility and also to spend some quality time with her. She has certainly supported me.’

Labor frontbencher and Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord paid tribute to Ms Barham.

‘I am the first to acknowledge that NSW Member of the Legislative Council Jan Barham always put the community first,’ he said in a statement.

‘Ms Jan Barham saw her role as a legislator and community representative as an important one and no one disputes her love for the north coast.

‘I sincerely wish her well in the future.

‘Ms Jan Barham can look back at her achievements as an MP and Byron Shire mayor with pride. She was a fierce advocate for Indigneous people, the elderly and those who could not speak out or defend themselves.”

‘It does not surprise anyone that she is retiring from parliament to care for her elderly mother.

‘Jan Barham is  a person who always thinks of others. The NSW Parliament will miss her gentle and kind nature.’


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  1. Jan, what can we say ? No words can begin to describe the sacrifices to your personal life that you have made in an effort to serve the planet and your fellow humans. The good news is we will hopefully see you around town more. Thankyou !

  2. Farewell Jan. Your presence will be sorely missed both as a breath of fresh air in parliament and an unrelenting advocate for the north coast.

  3. Jan has been a great worker for social and environmental justice – and a role model for women in the public arena.
    Thanks Jan.

  4. You took on the struggle and the planet thanks you Jan. This is now your time to tend to those you love and take care of your spirit May gentleness follow you..all the very best Jan.

  5. Jan Barham did not respond when I sought her help to deal with DOCS intimidating my family unit, threatening to take my (Indigenous) child away for no reason other than that I disagreed with a doctor – who later admitted on her NSW Health letterhead that there was nothing wrong with my child. Eventually I was able to have DOCS back off – with the help of the NRCLC – but Jan Barham simply never responded to the written request for her assistance sent by myself and my child’s mother. Very underwhelmed by Jan’s so-called advocacy for Indigenous people.


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