Treasurer Mike Baird has been elected leader of the Liberal party of New South Wales after Barry O’Farrell resigned on Wednesday.
Baird, the member for Manly, was elected unopposed by the parliamentary Liberal Party. Gladys Berejiklian will be the Deputy Leader and will remain Transport Minister.
“It is a privilege and something I take with with deep humility and respect,” Baird said. “It’s an honour.”
Baird pointed to the infrastructure projects that the government had started under O’Farrell. “We’re not just about stabilising, we’re about transforming NSW,” he said. “NSW is on the move.”
He said MPs were “shocked and saddened of the events of the last 48 hours”, adding O’Farrell “a man of integrity” and “has done a great job”.
“[His resignation was] a very noble act and he has done it for the good of the government,” he said.
Pointing to economic and job growth over O’Farrell’s tenure Baird said: “All of us in New South Wales need to reflect on where we were and where we are now”.
Berejiklian said she was proud to be elected Baird’s deputy. Referring to O’Farrell and his deputy Jillian Skinner added: “In the last few days when it has been tough they have been stoic and amazing”.
Before Baird was elected Member for Manly in 2007, he was an investment banker for 18 years at NAB, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. He is also married with three children and like Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a member of Queenscliff Surf Club.
Baird is the son of Bruce Baird, who served in both the Greiner state government and Howard federal government and was the deputy leader of the Liberal party in the early 1990s. His sister Julia is a Fairfax columnist and ABC presenter.
Baird was appointed NSW Treasurer after Liberal and National coalition won the 2011 election.
O’Farrell resigned on Wednesday after an Independent Commission Against Corruption’s inquiry into Australian Water Holdings revealed he had been sent a $3,000 bottle of 1959 Grange wine from AWH executive Nick di Girolamo to congratulate him on his 2011 election win.
O’Farrell maintained he does not remember receiving the gift which was not declared on his pecuniary interest register. A courier receipt, phone call record to di Girolamo and hand written thank you note were all presented to the ICAC.
Commenting on his relationship with di Girolamo, Baird said “I wouldn’t describe myself as friends”.
He also said that while ultimately di Girolamo’s appointment to State Water Corporation was a cabinet decision “in hindsight should that have been done? no” but shut the line of questioning down saying he was “not going into the ins and outs”.
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