NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says legal action against a “vile and racist” social media attack played a role in his decision to resign and leave parliament.
In a press conference on Monday morning, the NSW Nationals leader said it was “unbelievable” that he had to defend himself from “vile and racist attacks” in a social media setting.
“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 will continue,” he said.
“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 announcement, along with the opportunity that has now opened, that maybe now is the refresh.”
Barilaro is suing Jordan Shanks, known as FriendlyJordies, in the Federal Court over two videos which he claims defamed him in “vile and racist” attacks which portrayed him as a “corrupt conman”.
Barilaro said he had no intention of running for federal politics, which some earlier speculated.
He said the resignation of Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who announced on Sunday he planned to switch to federal politics, may have influenced the timing his decision.
“I have been thinking about this for a long time. Many of you have been reporting my exit for a while,” Mr Barilaro told reporters.
“Seeing Andrew Constance yesterday announce that he will exit state politics was in one way a moment that made me think about when was the right time.
“There is never a right time, but … I’m confident that this state now has bright days ahead of us and it is the right time for the state, for me, the Liberal Party and the National Party, a new freshness, a refresh of the government of the day.
“I am confident that under Dominic Perrottet and whoever the National Party will elect as leader, we’ll get there.”
Barilaro is the third NSW politician to announce he intends to leave parliament following the shock resignation of Premier Gladys Berejiklian after it was revealed she was being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), as well as Transport Minister Andrew Constance, who is planning to switch to federal politics.
It comes as the Liberal party prepares to elect a new leader, with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet set to replace Berejiklian as Premier at a NSW Liberal party room on Tuesday.
In an earlier statement Barilaro announced he would resign in a bid to provide a fresh slate for the new premier.
“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,” Barilaro said in a statement.
“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.
“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.”
Barilaro, who has been Deputy Premier for almost five years, praised the hard work of the Premiers he had worked with.
“We thought 2020 was challenging, and then 2021 kept those challenges coming, but throughout these times, the resilience shown by the people of NSW has been truly inspiring.
“I was entrusted by the Premier, as an original member of the Covid Crisis Committee, to be the architect of the roadmap out of lock down in both 2020 and 2021, and it was a responsibility that I did not take lightly, but I considered essential, to deliver hope and certainty not just for NSW, but for the Nation,” he said.
“I have worked with three of the Liberal Party’s hardest working Premier’s in Barry O’Farrell, Mike Baird and particularly Gladys Berejiklian who steered this State through some of its darkest days.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“National’s 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.”
1377 new cases and four deaths as Victoria’s ‘freedom day’ is set
Victoria has recorded 1377 new locally acquired Covid cases and four deaths in the 24 hours to midnight last night.
Melbourne’s lockdown is due to end this month, with Premier Daniel Andrews marking October 26 as the day fully vaccinated Victorians will be granted a raft of extra freedoms.
About 52 per cent of Victorians over the age of 16 have had two jabs, with the state predicted to hit its 70 per cent double dose milestone on October 26 or a few days earlier.
This will trigger a range of freedoms for Melbourne, including gathering outdoors in groups of 10, reopening pubs and clubs, increasing capacity limits on weddings and funerals and reopening hairdressers and personal care services.
In regional Victoria, community sport can return, hospitality venues can open indoors to 30 fully vaccinated people and funerals and weddings can run with 30 fully vaccinated people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Andrews praised Victorians for their hard work and urged more people to get vaccinated so they could “finish this off so we can get the lockdown off at the end of October (and) get the place open”.
“We are so close to the end. (We can) look forward to not just 2022 but many weeks before Christmas, and Christmas being the sort of Christmas we want,” he said.
“As a community, we can look forward with a sense of hope and optimism to these next few weeks.”
This comes as the state’s case numbers surged into the thousands last week. Victoria saw its highest daily infection numbers of the entire pandemic on Saturday, with 1448 cases and two deaths.
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