Mike Baird 'hurting for a mate' following Tony Abbott's ballot defeat


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15-09-2015 06:30 PM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


15-09-2015 06:30 PM



15-09-2015 07:32 PM

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2015-09-15 18:30:27

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BAIRD, Mike, (Premier, NSW)


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Mike Baird 'hurting for a mate' following Tony Abbott's ballot defeat -

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MARK COLVIN: Politics is a brutal business. As Tony Abbott felt the pain of losing the top job, his friend and political colleague, Premier Mike Baird in New South Wales paid tribute to him.

Mike Baird holds the state seat in which Tony Abbott's electorate falls, and he has been friends with Mr Abbott for 15 years.

The New South Wales Premier says politics is brutal and "he's hurting for his mate" a man he described as passionate and loyal.

New South Wales political reporter Brigid Glanville joins me now in the studio.

So this is quite a personal thing for Mike Baird even though they're not necessarily on the same wings of the party.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: That's right and over the last few months there's been lots of speculation about Mike Baird showing true leadership and better leadership style than Tony Abbott. And he has been, particularly in the last six months during the New South Wales state election, he distanced himself from Tony Abbott. But very quickly this morning Mike Baird came out. He wrote on his Facebook page, he said that many of those throwing stones don't see the heart behind the man who has spent decades volunteering at the local surf club or working a shift with the Rural Fire Service not for political gain, but for the simple reason that he loves his community. And he said not once have I sensed it was due to a thirst for power. Rather, he has an unquenchable desire to give back. So, they are friends. We've seen lots of photos over the years of them surfing together. They're both religious. Tony Abbott's obviously Catholic. Mike Baird is of Anglican faith. They have similar policies - anti gay marriage, anti abortion. But in other areas of social policy Mike Baird has certainly been trying to push himself as much more progressive i.e. things like asylum seekers. And, this is what Mike Baird had to say about Tony Abbott today.

MIKE BAIRD: But in the midst of that what we can't lose is people, relationships and certainly, I was a good mate of Tony Abbott's. And right now I hurt with him together with his family - his wife Margie and his daughters - it's an incredibly tough time. I thank him for his contribution. He is someone that loves his country and I believe that what he did every day and every week he put into making this great country better.

REPORTER: What would be Tony Abbott's legacy?

MIKE BAIRD: I think he is someone that, out of all people I know, I don't know anyone quite like him in terms of his dedication, his passion for Australia and his determination to do what was right for Australia. I think when you saw his time as opposition leader that's what you saw - a relentless work ethic, focus. And I think all of us who know him - the personal side - know him well. We're proud of him as a person and the contribution that he has made.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: So as you can hear Mark, Mike Baird there was a real sense of disappointment today because he feels sorry for his friend.

MARK COLVIN: But if Mr Abbott - as many people say he is - if he's such a nice guy, clearly one of the things that happened was that he failed to communicate that. Mike Baird is communicating that. What can other politicians learn from that gap?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: And we asked Mike Baird this a number of times today that, where is that disconnect been when you're so passionate about this man why can nobody else see it? And Mike Baird couldn't answer that and probably didn't want to answer it. But I think with Mike Baird, it has been interesting to watch him. He has certainly taken to social media. He is much more natural and relaxed than a lot of politicians are. But also in terms of that's what Malcolm Turnbull talked about - that leadership, a different style of leadership explaining the challenges - during the state election campaign Mike Baird went to the New South Wales wanting to sell the state's poles and wires, something that many other Labor premiers have wanted to do for years. Hugely risky. And he won with a mandate quite easily because he explained quite clearly, "If you sell the poles and wires we're going to get 20 billion dollars and this is what we're going to do with it." And again, GST, "Let's raise the GST by 15 per cent because we want to get more money to pay for health." So I think from what I can see is Mike Baird explains very clearly what he wants to do and tries to follow through. He has only been in for 6 months.

MARK COLVIN: Tony Abbott could possibly cause a by-election or he could retire at the next election, nobody knows. But with Mike Baird sitting there inside the Tony Abbott electorate what are the chances of Mike Baird making the transition to the federal sphere?

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Well we've asked him on numerous occasions particularly it first came up when Bronwyn Bishop was stood down because she's not far from that seat. And, he definitely said today that he has no desire to live in Canberra. He has never had any desire to live in Canberra. But he has only been the premier - well the premier elected - for six months and he's only 46 or 47. He could easily finish another three years here and then move on to Canberra. But he did talk about today, working with Canberra, the challenges that New South Wales has had and he's looking forward to that.

MIKE BAIRD: It's obviously early days. I'll let the new Prime Minister be sworn in together with his Cabinet and what we look forward to doing is working alongside every minister as we've done. We've been very constructive I think with the federal Government. Yes there's been some differences. At all times our focus is looking out for the people of this state whether it be health funding or education funding or more funding for infrastructure in New South Wales. Well I think what you've seen for us is that we're standing up for New South Wales and we'll continue to do that.

MARK COLVIN: Mike Baird, the Premier of New South Wales and our reporter there was Brigid Glanville.