Like rats leaving a sinking ship…
In another shock announcement from NSW Parliament, Deputy Premier John Barilaro has this morning resigned. He, as with the Premier, has sent a statement to the media. He also held a press conference in Sydney early today, on what is a public holiday for the state.
‘As we emerge from lockdown, we must embrace this time as a new beginning for our State, and welcome the opportunity it presents for a refresh,’ said Mr Barilaro.
‘I have decided now is the right time for me to hand the reins over to new leadership, and resign as Deputy Premier of NSW.’
ICAC is Barilaro’s ‘fight club’
When asked if he was required to give evidence to ICAC, Barilaro said, ‘The first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club. A great movie. The truth is this, if you are being subpoenaed by ICAC, you can’t talk about it. Leave the ICAC stuff alone, it is an independent body that needs to make judgement on issues.
‘We saw on Friday that there has been an outcry by the public. Let’s allow those proceeding to go ahead. You won’t get any comment from me about what the ICAC is, my position, or any other position of any other member, or even what the Premier is facing.
‘The reality is I’ve made it absolute No. 1 rule to never talk about ICAC.’
Honour and privilege
In his media statement, Barilaro said that serving as Deputy Premier of NSW, as Leader of the NSW Nationals and as the Member for Monaro has been the honour and privilege of a lifetime.
‘As the Member for Monaro some of my proudest moments include delivering five new schools; Jerrabomberra, Googong, Bungendore, Jindabyne and the School for Special Purpose co-located at Karabar.
‘The iconic Snowy Mountains brumby was saved when I legislated the Kosciusko Wild Horses Heritage Bill 2018 and we will continue to find a balance between protecting the brumbies and protecting the most sensitive wilderness areas of the Park through the Kosciusko Plan of Management.
‘Not to mention the exciting Special Activation Precinct for Jindabyne and the Mountains, which means we will see the Snowies gain even more popularity as a year-round tourism destination.’
It is the little things and the beautiful people I’ve met
Mr Barilaro went on to say, ‘It is the little things, and the beautiful people I’ve met, of whom I now call friends, that have made being the local member so special. Nothing is closer to my heart than the big hug and smile I received from Rosie Schenker when I delivered a renal unit at Cooma Hospital, so she no longer had to make long trips to Canberra.
‘To the people of Monaro, thank you for this honour.’
At this morning’s press conference, Mr Barilaro was asked if the government was crumbling, with three resignations in quick succession.
‘Not at all,’ he said. ‘We have seen it before and we will see it again. We had a change of the Deputy Prime Minister recently and we have had a change of the Prime Ministers and we have seen that in the past decade every day of the week.
‘Governments get re-elected and governments continue. It is more than one person. There is a team. I can assure the people of New South Wales, this exit doesn’t change the commitment of this government, determination of this government to continue through this pandemic and to continue serving its citizens.
‘I am very confident and comfortable with my decision today,’ he said.
In his email to media this morning Mr Barilaro said that in his time as Deputy Premier, he experienced first-hand, alongside the communities of NSW, the effects of prolonged drought, the worst bushfires in living memory, severe storm and flood disasters and a 1-in-100 year global pandemic, and it was a privilege to work with communities to endure and recover from those challenges.
‘I hope those communities could see my genuine and tireless effort to be there for them, especially as the Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery, a role I will never forget. I shared hugs, shed tears and brought hope for many.’
John Barilaro will leave politics altogether
Mr Barilaro said that public life has taken a toll on him. He also spoke about the defamation case against Jordan Shanks, (FriendlyJordies), describing the ongoing, very public defamation case as unbelievable.
Even though Mr Barilaro brought the case against FriendltyJordies, he says he’s on the defence. ‘I have to defend myself from vile and racist attacks in a social media setting, by individuals and a trillion-dollar company like Google, allow that sort of vile, racial attack on any individual, regardless of public figure or not, to remain is something that I can’t believe in 2021 still exists.
‘A young boy of migrant parents, I grew up, I understood what racism was. (I was) called many of those names. I didn’t think in 2021 that would continue. That in itself, can I say, was very difficult this year, and to be able to defend myself and continue with that case, I prefer to do it privately and not in the public eye.
‘That has been a big reason for my announcement.’
He also said that said turning 50 in November was a bit of a midlife crisis.
Mr Barilaro said, ‘The next Premier has big shoes to fill, but I wish them well and the best of luck, I will be cheering from the sidelines and I am excited for what is ahead under their stewardship.
‘My deepest and genuine gratitude goes to my NSW Nationals, our grassroots members, and particularly my Nationals colleagues who I have served alongside, for entrusting me to lead the Party and ensure our communities were heard.
‘People are sometimes quick to write off the National Party, but it’s the Nats in Government who are, and always will be, the praetorian guard of common sense.
‘Nationals Leaders have led that guard, and I am proud to be in their company. Now I am passing on that honour. Finally, thank you to my family for allowing me to have such an incredible opportunity and for their sacrifice,’ said Mr Barilaro.
‘I will be calling a Party Room meeting for this Wednesday 6 October where I will formally resign as leader and call for a ballot for a new leader,’ he said. ‘Following that, I will work with the Speaker and the Electoral Commission in relation to a by-election for the seat of Monaro.
‘Thank you and farewell.’