Blair resigns ministry just a day after being re-elected

Breaking: Niall Blair's bombshell : 'I'm in, now I'm out'


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Niall Blair at left last Monday showed no hint of leaving his ag ministry role. (alongside his shadow Mick Veitch)

Niall Blair at left last Monday showed no hint of leaving his ag ministry role. (alongside his shadow Mick Veitch)

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Who'll be next NSW Ag Minister?

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In a bombshell announcement late Sunday, Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair says he is resigning from the ministry just a day after being elected again to the NSW Upper House.

As the Coalition celebrated its tight victory, Blair threw a bomb into celebrations by announcing his departure from the front bench.

The search is on now for a new Primary Industries Minister after his extraordinary departure, that only a few had an inkling of - only indicating to a few he wouldn't serve in a future ministry. He said the Murray basin water debate had taken a big cost on him personally. He will stay in the Upper House.

In a statement Mr Blair said :

"Yesterday's election result was a vote for four more years of stability under the leadership of NSW's first elected female premier, Gladys Berejiklian.

"I congratulate the Premier, Deputy Premier and their campaign teams for the victory.

"I also offer condolences to my colleagues and their campaign teams who didn't achieve the result they'd hoped for yesterday.

"No matter what side of politics, anyone who throws their hat in the ring should be commended and I'm proud of our candidates who fought as best they could.

"With results in a number of seats still being determined, attention will now naturally turn to the make-up of the new ministry.

"Some months ago, I informed the Deputy Premier that I did not wish to be considered for any new role in the ministerial team and that I would not be putting myself forward to my colleagues as a candidate for a leadership position in the NSW Nationals.

"Since being pre-selected last April to lead the NSW Nationals on the ballot paper in the Legislative Council, my priorities have changed.

''Public life does not come without costs and while the opportunities have been immense, the costs personally and more recently professionally, have taken their toll.

"My role has had a significant impact on my family, particularly, my wife, Mel and son Lachlan. I would not be here today without their love, along with that of my extended family and friends. I look forward to repaying them for their unwavering support.

"My role has never been about me or my profile: it's been about my party, our members and the communities and industries I have had the pleasure of representing.

"In the face of the ongoing drought, our farmers and regional communities need someone who can continue to spend every waking minute fighting with them, among them and for them.

"After having done this proudly and steadfastly for the past eight years, it is now time to make way for someone new who can be that voice.

"I know there are people who are suggesting I should be sacked or that my resignation from Cabinet is due to the challenges and incorrect accusations that have been made about the Government when it comes to water management.

Niall Blair had to tackle the Menindee fish kill issue upfront for the government, with at the early stages little backing from his colleagues until much later on.

Niall Blair had to tackle the Menindee fish kill issue upfront for the government, with at the early stages little backing from his colleagues until much later on.

"I cannot deny that the level of aggression directed towards me around water policy has had a profound impact.

"However, I stand by every decision I have made and believe that while the benefit of those decisions may not be felt immediately, they will be felt in the years to come as our State works to deliver the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"In every decision, I've attempted to take a broad view in a bi-partisan manner to achieve the best possible outcome for the people of NSW.

"I've always tried to do what is right and resisted the temptation to be swayed by what is easy or popular, probably at times to my own detriment.

"I am proud of my various achievements in Parliament and my Ministerial portfolios and am confident they will stand the test of time.

Related: Coalition holds on to power in NSW

"I look forward to remaining a member of the Legislative Council and assisting a new minister and my colleagues in whatever way I can.

"I'd like to thank Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro for their leadership and support, as well as my past and current colleagues. I'd particularly like to thank Troy Grant, Adrian Piccoli and Mike Baird for providing me with the opportunity to serve as a Minister for the first time in 2015. I only hope that I have honoured their faith in me.

"Thank you as well to the agencies who have supported me throughout my time and most importantly, thank you to my staff for their professionalism, advice and commitment to me and the NSW Government.

"Lastly, to the farmers and people of regional NSW, quite simply, thank you."

"Thank you for allowing me to be your voice in agriculture.

"I know I may not have always achieved the outcome you sought, but I hope you always trusted my commitment to serve you as best as I possibly could."

Mr Blair was elected in 2011 to the Upper House, and was a member, Goulburn Branch, for the Nationals from 2004. His parliamentary record says he has "interests include rugby, a family association with horses and he's completed three Ironman triathlons." A fitness freak, he always read The Land on Thursday mornings after a run.

His time as Primary Industries Minister has seen him battle a number of difficult issues upfront for the Coalition and he was even threatened at one stage before his visit to Menindee after the outcry earlier this year about fish kills on the Darling River.

Obviously this personal attack has come at a high cost to him. Recently asked by The Land if he would enter the Lower House, as his abilities seemed to be greater than what the Upper House offers, he said he preferred the Upper House because  he liked dealing with the intricacies of legislation.

Supporting Aussie products in China.

Supporting Aussie products in China.

His loss on the front bench will be a blow to the Government as it heads into a third term with his vast knowledge of native vegetation and water issues, and obviously his work in steering native veg laws through the farming sector and Parliament.

He tirelessly pushed NSW agriculture on visits to Asia, recently celebrating 24-hour farm to plate NSW cherry sales to China.

He recently said he lived by his Irish father's maxim "never forget where you come from".

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