“Retired North Sydney MP Jillian Skinner spent her last days in office bedding down her legacy with a final newsletter and a friendly interview.”
(Harriet Alexander, Fairfax Media, 25th February 2017)
It’s no doubt that another by-election won’t be fun for the new Premier of NSW. Skinner’s resignation this past week makes four that will need to be held in the next few weeks. The good news for her is that this particular seat has only ever been held by an Independent or a Liberal. The bad news is that a lot has changed in 23 years – and whether this seat will remain in Liberal hands or not can only remain to be a question.
Local opposition over matters like the current Liberal/National state government’s performance including in council amalgamations and a contentious construction projection regarding the Warringah Freeway stands in the way of the Liberals snapping up their third win in a row. However, it seems that’s not a problem for Ms Berejiklian – or at least the newsletter that they both contributed for. In a farewell cover letter of a local newsletter, she was praised for her support of local schools and of course, her many years as the State Health Minister in both the O’Farrell and Baird administrations.
But why did it take her four weeks to resign?
This is the exact question we put to State Political Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax), Sean Nicholls in an interview I produced on Friday. As he put it:
“Any swing against the government will be regarded as a sign that electors are turning off the [Coalition]”.
To which point you might be thinking – she should have announced and resigned on the same day so as to avoid any bigger swings and dramas. However, she decided to wait it out. Why? It may be to do with the new infrastructure announcement she (and the Government) have been waiting six years for – the Beaches Tunnel. Good news for those who travel across the Spit Bridge and have horrible traffic complaints every weekday (those who live in Sydney will know exactly what I’m going on about.) Maybe it’s also the fact she was still dealing with holding out from letting constituents know that they will still be funding her six figure pay packet – even beyond resigning from Parliament.
Or as Nine News Sydney’s Twitter put it on February 15:
(Picture Credit: 9 News Sydney)
What tidying? On that level, I’m not sure I wanted to know at the time. She ended up resigning just five days later.
Skinner has left much improvements in health on the most part – the government gave her the money to do it and the confidence to make it happen. But it wasn’t without controversy. She (and Labor and the Unions) are not fans of potential hospital privatisations – an action that the Government is still considering. Equally, constituents across the state are not letting her forget the damage she caused by not showing remorse and resolution to the gassing incidents at Bankstown Hospital last year. But now, the issue turns to how well the new Premier and her government will cope with the looming elections – and of course, where the Health portfolio now sits amongst the never ending list of priorities to fix before 2019.
Thanks to Sean Nicholls, for joining us. Until next time, may all your news be good news.