Member for Murray, Piccoli, quits politics

September 06, 2017

A THIRD by-election will be held in NSW after Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli resigned from politics.

The long-time Nationals MP will finish in the job next Friday following months of speculation, to take up a job heading an education institute at UNSW.

The former education minister said he had been considering leaving politics since he was dropped from cabinet in January.

Mr Piccoli’s new role will see him work to improve academic outcomes for Australian students, particularly those in rural areas.

‘‘I apologise for causing the by-election because it is inconvenient, but I hope people understand I am putting my family ahead of my job for the first time in a long time,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to keep my deep involvement in education policy and research.’’

And while he will no longer be in Parliament, he reaffirmed his commitment to helping the local community with politically based issues, including the push to have commercial timber harvesting returned to the Murray Valley National Park.

‘‘They’ve been badly done by as an industry and I would like to do what I can to help the industry get back to what it was 100 years ago,’’ he said.

‘‘There were some things I wanted to achieve before I left ... trying to help the red gum industry along the Murray; we’ve started that ball rolling ... but for whoever becomes the new Member for Murray, they’re going to have plenty of work to do as well and I expect they will have the same passion and enthusiasm for the job as I have had.’’

Deniliquin’s Perin Davey has not ruled out standing in the by-election, while The Nationals’ Deniliquin branch chair David Landini is also believed to be seeking pre-selection.

Mr Landini said Mr Piccoli’s resignation sparked the need for important discussion at a local level.

‘‘Adrian’s resignation is a surprise to local National Party members and the wider community,’’ Mr Landini said.

‘‘The consequences and possible actions will be discussed by myself, other National Party members, and members of the wider community over the next few days.’’

At this stage, two others are confirmed to be eyeing Mr Piccoli’s seat. One of those is previous Member for Murray challenger and Griffith resident Brian Mills, who says he will stand as an independent.

Seeking pre-selection for The Nationals is former Murrumbidgee Shire Council mayor Austin Evans, who will soon be automatically elected to the new Murrumbidgee Council due to a lack of candidates in his ward.

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, which took the previously safe seat of Orange from The Nationals in a by-election last year, has confirmed it will stand a candidate.

Although a date for the by-election has not been set, Mr Piccoli said he expected it would be late October to early November.

‘‘There is no such thing as a safe seat and The National Party never take anything for granted so we’ll be working hard every day to make the case as to why a National Party person should be re-elected to the seat of Murray; reminding people of where this state was six years ago ... and that’s the case we’ll be making over the next six to eight weeks until the by-election and that’s why I think the National Party will be re-elected in the seat of Murray,’’ he said.

With almost 20 years in politics, Mr Piccoli said it had been a great experience and was proud of his achievements.

‘‘It’s had its ups and downs but it’s a fantastic job to represent your local community,’’ he said.

‘‘Across the Murray electorate, the achievements have been really substantial. We’ve never seen in my 20 years as much money being invested in this electorate as we’ve seen in the last three or four years; from a new bridge across the Murray at Moama and Echuca —about $90 million — that’s been their number one project for about 20 or 30 years and we’re able to deliver that.’’

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