Vision Courtesy: ABC news 24
NSW Premier Mike Baird is resigning from politics, less than halfway into his current term in office.
Baird unexpectedly posted a statement on his personal Twitter page on Thursday morning, saying a new state leader would be voted in next week during a Liberal party-room meeting.
"In my maiden speech, I spoke about wanting to come into public life to make a difference. I was frustrated by what I saw - a lack of action - and I was determined to try and get things done," Baird told a press conference on Thursday morning.
"I said many times I didn't want to become a career politician - I wanted to go as hard as I could for as long as I could and then step aside. Well, today, I am making good on that pledge."
Fighting tears, Baird said talked of the "strong personal cost that comes in public life."
"I've probably felt that more than any other time in the past few months. My father and my mother and my sister are going through a very serious health challenge and, to be honest, at times I have been in pain not being able to spend the time that I should," he said.
Baird listed job creation and an "infrastructure boom" as his proudest achievements in office, but did not mention the controversial lockout laws, council amalgamations or greyhound ban which saw his once-soaring popularity plummet in recent months. He admitted NSW was a "basket case" before his team took office.
He said "I don't know what's next" for himself personally, but added "on a number of occasions over the past few years people have said, 'If you ever leave politics, come and talk to us.' Obviously, that's what I'll do."
Baird said there would be a spill of positions at a Liberal party-room meeting next week, where a new leader and premier would be chosen.
"Following that meeting, I will resign from Parliament, effective immediately," he wrote.
He will also leave his electorate of Manly, presumably triggering a by-election for his seat. State Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian is considered a frontrunner to be the new premier.
Baird joined state parliament in 2007. After serving as treasurer, he became premier of NSW in 2014 following the resignation of Barry O'Farrell over accepting a bottle of wine from Australian Water Holdings CEO Nick Di Girolamo. Baird's team won the March 2015 election, but less than two years into his term Baird will step down.
His time as premier has been filled with controversy over Sydney's strict lockout laws and a ban on greyhound racing, as well as forcing councils to amalgamate and the fiercely opposed WestConnex road link through Sydney.
Baird's waning popularity, especially around the greyhound saga, claimed the scalp of his former deputy Troy Grant and was a major factor in the Nationals losing a by-election for the seat of Orange in November.
Baird had enjoyed initial soaring popularity, in no small part due to his entertaining social media presence. He grabbed headlines for live-tweeting The Bachelor, turning up to work in a Delorean on 'Back To The Future Day', hanging out with puppies and posting cute pictures with his family.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull paid tribute to the premier on Thursday morning.
More to come.