Brad Hazzard has decided not to stand at the next election, starting a contest to replace him.

Member for Wakehurst and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (main image) announced last night (Monday, 24 October) he will not be standing for re-election at the next NSW election in March 2023.

Minister Hazzard, who has held the seat of Wakehurst since 1991, had been widely tipped to stand down at the next election but an announcement had been delayed because NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was trying to convince the popular local member to contest the next election.

Announcing his decision, Minister Hazzard thanked his family and supporters, as well as his parliamentary colleagues, saying NSW was ‘in a vastly better place than it was when we came to Government’.

“I have enjoyed every moment working with the community organisations, local schools and individuals in my electorate, who strive to make Wakehurst a better place to live.

“Opening our magnificent Northern Beaches Hospital alongside the many dedicated and professional health staff there, is one of many outstanding moments,” said Minister Hazzard.

David Walton

The search now begins within Liberal Party ranks to replace Mr Hazzard as the Liberal candidate for Wakehurst at the next election. Among the frontrunners is Northern Beaches Councillor David Walton (image above) whose Curl Curl council ward sits within the Wakehurst electorate.

Cr Walton is a former top cop on the Northern Beaches, having served as Crime Manager for the Northern Beaches Police Area Command. He has a strong reputation for demanding high standards of governance and accountability, and has served on the board of a bank.

Wendy Finianos

Wendy Finianos

Also certain to nominate is local businesswoman Wendy Finianos, who nominated for preselection against Mr Hazzard in 2018. A naturalised Australian citizen born in Lebanon, Ms Finianos is well-known within philanthropic circles for her fund-raising work for not-for-profit groups.

Ms Finianos has lived on the Northern Beaches for 17 years, speaks three languages fluently, is a member of Rotary and a former President of the Warringah Chamber of Commerce. She holds a Bachelor of Business and has corporate experience in banking and insurance.

Toby Williams

Toby Williams

Another nominee will be Toby Williams, who is well-known to those who deal with Minister Hazzard’s Wakehurst electorate office where he works as a Senior Electorate Officer. Dealing with many of the day-to-day responsibilities of the electorate on Minister Hazzard’s behalf, some see Mr Williams as having served the pre-requisite apprenticeship.

Raised on the Northern Beaches, a son of a local police officer and of a former Manly Warringah player, Mr Williams is a Justice of the Peace who holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a number of board level appointments, including ClubsNSW, Dee Why RSL Club, Harbord Bowling and Recreation Club. He is President of the Manly Warringah Football Referees Association and a Life Member of Warringah Aquatic Swimming Club and Warringah Amateur Swimming Association.

Natasha Maclaren-Jones

Natasha Maclaren-Jones

A dark horse nominee is possible in the form of current NSW Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) and Minister for Families and Communities, and Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones. She is understood to have gone cold on a move into Pittwater after learning she would not have enough support there to win an open pre-selection contest against Northern Beaches Councillor Rory Amon.

It is understood Minister Maclaren-Jones has more support in the Wakehurst electorate, and may now switch her focus there in her effort to move to the lower house. Should she choose to run in Wakehurst, she will face the challenge of convincing Liberal Party members she is not taking away the future prospects of other nominees when she already has a spot in parliament.

Dominic Perrottet, Brad Hazzard and Rob Stokes

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (image above, front) thanked Mr Hazzard for his service to the community.

“I thank my friend and colleague Brad Hazzard for his tireless commitment to serving the people of NSW throughout his 32 years in Parliament as a local member and Minister.

“Our State is a better place thanks to Brad’s significant contribution. He got into political life to make a difference and he delivered – with the lives of many in NSW better off thanks to his extensive service.

“It is a testament to Brad’s dedication that, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores, he answered the call, applying his energy and experience to guide our state through a 1 in 100-year global pandemic, supporting our strong health and economic response to COVID-19.

“I completely understand that after more than thirty years of high profile public service, now is the right time for Brad to focus on his family, friends and his health and wellbeing.

“There is no doubt our state benefited from Brad’s invaluable experience, commitment and advice throughout the pandemic and beyond, helping to keep people safe, and then open up again, get people’s lives back on track safely and revive our economy as quickly as possible.

“Brad’s contribution to public life extends well beyond his service during the pandemic. He was part of a Liberal and Nationals Government that turned our health system around following years of neglect under Labor, building and redeveloping 180 hospitals and health facilities across NSW.

“Brad’s legacy is a health system that is the envy of every other state in Australia, with investment and support at record levels. It is a testament to his record that his fellow state Labor and Liberal health ministers continue to reach out for his advice on how they can emulate our NSW health system.

“Health was just one of many ministerial appointments that Brad has embraced over the past three decades. In an extraordinary contribution to the life of our State, Brad served as Attorney General, Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Minister for Justice, Minister for Social Housing and Minister for Medical Research, as well as Leader of the House. Prior to 2008, he was the Shadow Minister for 17 different portfolios.

“In the halls of NSW Parliament, Brad has been a breath of effervescent energy, colour and life, and a generous mentor and friend to many members, both within the Government, and across the political aisle. Above all, Brad has been a tireless and committed advocate for people right across our State, and especially for his local constituents in Wakehurst.

“As a local member he was a mainstay at community events and a strong campaigner on local issues. He delivered a new Northern Beaches Hospital, hundreds of millions of dollars for Wakehurst Parkway and a new school in Allambie Heights.

“I place on record my gratitude to Brad’s family and friends for supporting him in his long political career. Political life is never easy on those close to us, and rarely do our family have a say in their involvement, so I pay tribute to everyone that supported Brad during this time. Brad has made an enormous contribution to public life and I thank him and wish him well for the future,” said Premier Perrottet.

Wakehurst MP and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard

Full statement by Member for Wakehurst Brad Hazzard

“After 32 years of service as the MP for Wakehurst, including 12 years as a senior Cabinet Minister and 16 years as a Shadow Minister, it is time for a new beginning.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my wife and my family for their support, especially over these past three COVID-challenged years.

“I thank the NSW Liberal Party, Wakehurst branch members and our local community for allowing me – over eight successive elections – to be their voice in the NSW Parliament.

“I want to thank every Liberal Leader since 1995 for the honour of continuous service on the frontbench but particularly, Premiers O’Farrell, Baird, Berejiklian and Perrottet.

“Under their leadership, the Liberals and Nationals turned around the fortunes of NSW. Our great State is in a vastly better place than it was when we came to Government.

“I have enjoyed every moment working with the community organisations, local schools and individuals in my electorate, who strive to make Wakehurst a better place to live.

“I thank my Wakehurst electorate staff who have always supported me to achieve positive outcomes for our community, and there are a few highlights to single out.

“Opening our magnificent Northern Beaches Hospital alongside the many dedicated and professional health staff there, is one of many outstanding moments.

“Despite years of promises, Labor never delivered our hospital but the Liberals and Nationals did, along with a further $178 billion in infrastructure projects for NSW. Among these, the $600 million upgrade of the Wakehurst Parkway and Warringah Rd intersection; the East-West expansion of Warringah Road; and the soon-to-be built new Forest High School at Allambie Heights.

“I want to thank the incredible staff who have worked in my ministerial office over the years in the portfolios of Planning, Infrastructure, Justice, Attorney-General, Social Housing, Family and Community Services, Medical Research, Health and as Leader of the House in the Legislative Assembly.

“I acknowledge all the public servants I have been honoured to work with. NSW is blessed to have such committed and capable civil servants. I include amongst them former NSW Health Executive Secretary Elizabeth Koff, Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce (now Secretary) and the amazing public health team lead by Dr Kerry Chant.

“As NSW Health Minister it has been the best of times and the worst of times.

“The best of times has been working with the incredibly talented staff in our health system, the building of 180 hospitals and health facilities across NSW (with more to come); as well as the huge increases in staff. NSW Health is the biggest health agency in Australia with over 160,000 staff and now has a budget of $33 billion, double that under Labor, and almost a third of the entire NSW Budget.

“The worst of times came with COVID-19. When the pandemic began, we were bracing for an expected 25,000 deaths in NSW in the first year. There were many anguished nights. What followed was a gruelling and a deeply upsetting time where rapid decisions had to be made to try and keep 8.5 million people safe from the virus.

“All I can say to the NSW community is everyone did their very best to keep you safe. I particularly want to praise Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Dominic Perrottet for their support of NSW Health and myself throughout the pandemic. I am forever grateful.

“Non Ministerial matters have also been very important to me. Working with colleagues across the political divide to right the antiquated wrong of potential criminalisation of women and doctors who found themselves making the difficult decision to undertake an abortion, was another important moment for me.

“I am also very proud of initiating the discussions 30 years ago which led to the western forecourt wall of the NSW Parliament being committed to the Aboriginal community to ensure there is a place in the mother parliament of the nation that recognises the first peoples of this nation.

“Finally, whilst the NSW Liberal party gave me the opportunity to make a difference, I want to acknowledge that I have worked with many wonderful people from all sides of politics throughout my career. They have been genuinely committed to making NSW a better place for everyone and upholding the values of democracy that we hold dear,” said Minister Hazzard.

Rob Stokes and Brad Hazzard open a new palliative casre unit at Mona Vale Hospital

Mr Hazzard (image above, right) joins a list of Northern Beaches MPs who are standing down at the next election, including Member for Davidson and Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly Jonathan O’Dea, along with Member for Pittwater and NSW Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes (image above, left). The only incumbent state MP seeking re-election is Member for Manly and NSW Environment and Heritage Minister James Griffin.

The NSW Election will be held on Saturday, 25 March 2023.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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