CANBERRA – Not a natural politician, or expecting to be a career politician, for Mike Baird the past ten years in public life has been "a long battle at times".
With plummeting popularity and overwhelming family health problems, he insists he has gone as hard as he can, for as long as can.
Baird has declared, "There is nothing left."
And now this, a shock retirement announcement three years into job of New South Wales Premier and halfway through the state parliament's current term.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) January 18, 2017
"After ten years in public life, three years as Treasurer and three years as Premier, I think now is the right time to do this," Baird said.
"It's appropriate that governments refresh and renew and for that, it is time."
Baird has come close to tears as he addressed the media in Sydney Thursday, describing health problems within his family and the need to be closer to his children.
"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."
"... And this... This will change today."
The decision to go means there will be seven NSW Premiers in 12 years.
Baird was known as political risk-taker who earned the unwelcome nickname "Casino Mike" through the introduction of unpopular lock-out laws.
Still only 48 years old, Baird took charge in 2014 after the resignation of Barry O'Farrell and quickly garnered stellar personal polling figures.
His popularity stakes have plummeted after some spectacular risks, which have backfired and had to be walked back, including the short-lived ban on greyhound racing and the lock-out laws, which took longer to be relaxed.
Forced council amalgamations have also taken their toll, including the loss to the government of the former Nationals stronghold seat of Orange in a by-election.
It lead to Troy Grant stepping down as NSW Nations Leader.
But Baird also stood out among state leaders in 2015 by proposing that Australia's GST rate be increased to 15 percent.
Baird declared his legacy is for others to write.
"I haven't come in here, into politics, for people to write about me or talk about legacies or what you've done well or what you've done badly," he said.
Mike Baird's biggest regret was the lack of outcome in tax reform debate, "I think that's probably the thing that frustrated me the most"
— Brihony Speed (@brihonyspeed) January 18, 2017
"I've genuinely come in to try and make a difference into people's lives and there's a number of policy decisions we've made that I strongly believe make a huge difference to people's lives and, you know, I've given my best. I've given my all."
"I mean, there is nothing left."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has tweeted support and appreciation, saying, "Thank you @mikebairdMP - you have set NSW on track to lead and succeed in the 21st century. Great innings magnificently played."
— Leon Sjogren (@Leonsjogren) January 18, 2017
Federal Labor Leader Bill Shorten has also paid tribute, despite being on opposing political side.
"Mr Baird was probably the most talented Liberal at the state level in New South Wales," he told reporters in Melbourne.
"So the Liberal Party today in New South Wales is a much more diminished political party than it was yesterday."
— Political Alert (@political_alert) January 19, 2017
His Deputy and Treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian is widely regarded as the front runner to replace him, but Baird said that will be matter for the party room."
He has indicated he will be quitting parliament soon after the new Premier is installed.
The next NSW election is due to be held in 2019.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has told Sydney Radio 2GB that Baird can be proud of what he's achieved as NSW Premier, saying, "He's held the office of Premier in the great state with great distinction."
"Pretty good innings, short innings, but a pretty good strike rate," he said.
There's now also speculation Baird may follow his father Bruce Baird into federal politics.
Dutton approves. "He'd be welcome," he said.
There is expected to be a Liberal party room meeting and a spill of leadership positions next week.