However, standing aside is not an option for me as the Premier of NSW. The people of NSW need certainty as to who their leader is during these challenging times of the pandemic.
I cannot predict how long it will take the ICAC to complete this investigation, let alone deliver a report, in circumstances where I was first called to give evidence at a public hearing nearly 12 months ago. Therefore, it pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign the office of Premier. My resignation will take effect as soon as the NSW Liberal Party can elect a new parliamentary leader.
In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I will also resign from the NSW Parliament once I have consulted the electoral commission on appropriate timing for a byelection, given the COVID restrictions.
My resignation as Premier could not happen at a worse time, but the timing is completely outside of my control as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the history of NSW.
That is the ICAC’s prerogative. Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do, I love my job, and serving the community, but I have been given no option following the statement issued.
To continue as Premier would disrupt the state government during a time when our entire attention should be focused on the challenges confronting NSW. I do not want to be a distraction from what should be the focus of the state government during this pandemic, which is the wellbeing of our citizens.
Notwithstanding the challenges of the last few years and few months in particular, I have never felt stronger, nor more confident in my leadership. I have absolutely no regrets during my time in public life. At times we all stumble, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again stronger and wiser than before. I have done this many times, as we all have.
My only regret will be not to be able to finish the job to ensure the people of NSW transition to living freely with COVID.
However, I am extremely confident that whoever succeeds me will be more than capable of continuing this job. Please give them your trust and confidence. We will come through this period stronger, more resilient, and appreciating what really matters in life.
I feel strong, energised and optimistic about the future of this great state.
I want to thank the thousands of our frontline heroes who have kept us safe and kept us going during the darkest days in our state history. I owe you a debt of gratitude. Nothing that we can say or do will be able to demonstrate the significance of what you have done.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Liberal Party to whom I owe my career, the people of the electorate of Willoughby who have elected me five times to be their member of Parliament, my parliamentary colleagues for their support and hard work, my outstanding and loyal staff past and present, and all the professional public servants with whom I have worked.
I also want to thank my family and friends who have provided me with unconditional support and understanding when I have not been as present due to my responsibilities.
Most importantly I want to thank you, the people of NSW. When the chips were down in the past years, in particular during the drought, bushfires and then COVID, we stood alongside each other. We have grieved and supported each other during these tragedies. I hope you know that you will remain foremost in my thoughts.
The courage that you display in your lives every day has inspired me every step of the way. The courage and the support you have shown me has humbled me and made me a better leader and a better person. Serving you has been the greatest privilege of my life. Please know that every day I gave it my all and worked as hard as I could to create a better future for our state and its people.
I truly believe that NSW is a place where every person, irrespective of their background and circumstances has the opportunity to be their best, to make a difference.
So as I address you for the final time as your Premier, please stay the course and stay safe. We will be shortly out of this lockdown and be able to get on with our lives. NSW and its people will come out of this lockdown stronger, and together we will build a future full of optimism and hope.
Finally, thank you again for giving me the honour of being your Premier.