In a shock announcement, Mike Baird, the NSW Premier, has said he is retiring from politics.
He made the announcement on Twitter at 9.05am on Thursday 19 January, saying, “I’m retiring from politics. It’s been an honour to serve you, NSW.”
In a Facebook post, Baird said, “In my maiden speech in 2007, I said I was entering politics to make a difference in people’s lives – not to become another career politician. After ten years in politics … I am making good on that pledge and announcing my retirement from public office.”
In a press conference, he said, “there is a strong personal cost that comes in the public life. I probably felt that more than any other time in the past few weeks. My father and mother and sister are going through very serious health challenges. This will change today.
“Whilst there’s much more to do I strongly believe that there is a great team I leave behind and they will do many more great things for this state.”
“Politics is such a game of great compromise so if you can come out of that with integrity in tact, you’ve done pretty well.” – Simon Smart
Eternity approached several key Christian leaders to collect their responses to this shock announcement.
Greg Clarke, CEO Bible Society Australia
“I thank Mike not only for launching Bible Society’s bicentenary celebrations late last year, but for serving NSW as Premier. The Bible reminds us that it requires the wisdom of Solomon to tackle such a job! And for a Sea Eagles supporter, he’s not such a bad bloke.”
Steve Chong, director of RICE
“Sorry to see him go. It has been a pleasure to get know Mike, I’ve been inspired by his faith and integrity that, although the media at times hasn’t allowed to come through, over a dinner table chat is easily apparent.
“Will never forget the moment when Mike chose to talk to someone who wanted to dissent strongly to one of his policies (at a RICE Movement fundraiser event!). Hardly the time or place, as the event host, I tried to interupt, yet each time I tried to rescue him from that chat he told me to leave him be ‘as this issue really matters to this person’ so he took that chat for a long time instead of the growing impatient queue for photographs. Will miss this kind of strong caring leadership, God bless you in your next season!”
Mark Makowiecki, NSW director of the Australian Christian Lobby
“Premier Mike Baird has always endeavoured to be a servant of the people and other politicians would do well to emulate his example. He made it clear that he was not in the position for himself but acted on what he believed was best for NSW. He demonstrated his Christian values in how he conducted himself in public life. ACL wishes Mike Baird and his family every blessing in the future”
“I think we need more Christian leaders like Mike Baird with integrity and compassion, to unite Australia.” – Scott Sanders
Simon Smart, personal friend of Mike and executive director of Centre for Public Christianity
“I’m glad for him. I think it’s not a bad time for him to be getting out. Politicians rarely get to do that; on their own terms and in a strong position. It’s a rare thing for that to happen in politics.
“There are complicated reasons for it as he talked about in his press conference. But I’m glad for him because he achieved the things he wanted to achieve. He has worked incredibly hard and worked to his capacity.
“He will be relieved now. I’m looking forward, as are a few of us, to having our friend back in our lives more often. I’m looking forward to some more surfs and time with the family.
“I’m proud of what he has achieved and the way he has gone about the work. More than that he has showed a lot of integrity in what he has done.
“One of the things people found attractive about him, which was true, is that he wasn’t a career politician. He launched into some big projects and they have made a big difference. At one level, a judgment people could make, is that the NSW economy has turned around under his leadership.
“One of the things about Mike I’ve loved seeing is how energised he got, sometimes in the less public and less conspicuous parts of the job. He was energised and animated by the opportunities to care for people in need. He did that with great relish.
“A lot of believers have been encouraged by his faith and how clear he is about it and how he serves the public. Regardless of what you think about what he did, he was clear about what motivated him.
“Politics is such a game of great compromise so if you can come out of that with integrity in tact, you’ve done pretty well.”
Scott Sanders, CEO Common Grace
“I was saddened to hear about his resignation at a time when I think we need more Christian leaders like Mike Baird with integrity and compassion, to unite Australia.
“Mike’s been a supporter of our work, as we encourage Christian leaders to build meaningful relationships with the Muslim community.
“We really wish he and his family all the best as they move into this new stage of life.”
Jane Fry, Acting General Secretary of Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and ACT
“I think it is a good thing when leaders know they have achieved what they came to achieve, and recognise when it’s time to move on.”
Glenn Davies, Archbishop, Sydney Anglican Diocese
“With the unexpected resignation of Mike Baird as Premier, the State has lost an outstanding leader.
A man of principle and of mature Christian faith, Mike Baird has ‘made the difference’ that he intended to make when he entered politics a decade ago.
His bold agenda for improving the infrastructure of our cities and our transport networks will stand the State in good stead for the next half century. His willingness to eschew short term political gain in order to do the right thing for the citizens of NSW is a model for political leaders from all sides.
Yet leadership of this calibre naturally attracts its critics, especially when powerful minorities are challenged and chastened as to their genuine concern for the common good, rather than their own sectional interests.
For Mike Baird, his commitment to his family is both serious and important, not a smokescreen for a resignation due to other reasons. Mike Baird is trustworthy and while I am personally sorry to see him leave the office of Premier, I thank God for the impact he has made over the past ten years, and especially the last three years as Premier.
May God raise up more leaders like Mike, a person of transparency and genuine concern for the long term good of the citizens of NSW.