Thank you, Adrian
After 18 years of representing the Murrumbidgee and Murray electorates, Adrian Piccoli, one of our longest serving MPs, has announced he is stepping back from the demands of political life, taking an opportunity that will allow him to spend more time with his family and still serve the educational needs of regional and rural Australia.
As the first Nationals MP to hold the education portfolio in 35 years, his dedication to the field saw him frequently regarded as a Minister who truly “got it” by peers, teachers, parents and even the opposition.
Adrian departs with a legacy of which he should be rightly proud. Across NSW, schools have reaped the benefits of his tireless work, including the Local Schools, Local Decisions plan which brought around practical change for schools able to implement novel strategies to suit their individual needs.
He also ensured NSW was the first State to sign onto the Gonski funding model – now fully funded thanks to his advocacy – knowing the model would drive a fairer deal for country schools and produce future leaders “We want more doctors from Trangie, scientists from Lismore and IT specialists from Cooma.”
FIRST DAY BUTTERFLIES: With students at a local primary school in Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson's electorate.
With Adrian as Minister for Education, $46 million was secured for the Connecting Country Schools program which directly addressed the technology disadvantage regional schools face, upgrading nearly 13,000 learning spaces to ensure reliable access to the internet.
Adrian leaves his Southern NSW electorate of Murray in one of the strongest positions it has been in decades, thanks to the fiscal strength of the Nationals and Liberals.
Major funding announcements this year include $25 million for Griffith High School renewal, $9.4 million for a new Deniliquin Police Station, $15 million each for Edward River, Murray River and Murrumbidgee Councils and close to $13 million for the Griffith Link Road, Moama Bridge and Griffith, Finley and Balranald truck washes. There has also been significant investment in health, ambulance, sewerage systems and emergency services in the past two years with particular emphasis on providing vital renal and emergency health services to Finley, Griffith and Deniliquin. Adrian also brought Parliament to the people, hosting the NSW Community Cabinet in Griffith in August.
TETE A TETE: With former Minister for Western NSW and Mental Health Kevin Humphries at Headspace in Griffith
NSW Nationals Leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro congratulated Adrian on his record, which included record infrastructure spending on schools and serving as Deputy Leader for seven years.
"I thank Adrian for his extraordinary service and wish him all the best for his future endeavours."
John also took the opportunity to look forward, noting that now is the perfect time for a new candidate to step forward and build upon the legacy of service that Adrian has created.
“While we will miss Adrian's experience, it's important to remember that this opportunity presents us with a great chance to identify and develop fresh, new talent for the NSW Nationals - it's an opportunity for renewal,” he said.
"Just last month our grassroots party members pre-selected Steph Cooke to be the Nationals candidate for the seat of Cootamundra. A small businesswoman with a stellar career and strong community ties.”
"I look forward to unearthing similar talent for the people of Murray.”
THROWBACK: Adrian Piccoli with the then Deputy Premier and Leader of NSW Nationals Andrew Stoner (R), Member for Murray-Darling John Williams (centre).
We are proud of Adrian’s contribution to our Party and wish him well as the new head of the UNSW Regional Education Research Centre to be based in Griffith. We are certain that he will fight with the same conviction for regional interests in his new role as he did for so long during his time on Macquarie Street. His contribution to the Party and regional education no doubt to continue for years to come.