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David Elliott Announces Retirement from State Politics

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

David Elliott is a former politician having served as both Transport Minister and Minister for Police and Emergency Services in New South Wales.  In October 2022 Mr. Elliott announced his retirement from NSW-state politics in the lead up to the NSW Election. Since leaving politics in March of 2023, Mr. Elliott has become the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia’s NSW Chief Executive Officer

New South Wales Transport Minister, David Elliot, with "David Elliot' text in the foreground

Retirement from NSW Politics

In a statement shared via social media on Saturday October 22nd 2022, Mr. Elliott announced that:

"…with the abolition of my Baulkham Hills electorate and advice that I cannot be accommodated in the new seat of Castle Hill on factional grounds, I have today advised my community that I will not be re contesting the 2023 State Election."

The seat of Baulkham Hills will be split and redistributed into Castle Hill, Epping and Kellyvill in the 2023 March election. Mr. Elliott is now the 11th member of the Coalition government to announce their retirement from state politics, joining Corrections minister, Geoff Lee, Customer Service minister, Victor Dominello, and the Infrastructure minister, Rob Stokes.

Mr. Elliott stated that he "accepts the circumstances of his departure," and that he believed he had "no support" to contest Castle Hill:

"Unfortunately, on occasions they [factions]are built around personalities and on this occasion for some strange reason my personality didn't play out...There's no doubt at all the community don't like factions in politics."

Mr. Elliott oversaw a worsening in the relationship between the government and the RTBU regarding pay and conditions, with Mr. Elliott claiming that the union had "shat on me from a great height."

He has also overseen a decline in the relationship between the RTBU and the government over pay and conditions. Earlier in the year, Elliott said the union had “shat on me from a great height”.

2022 RTBU Industrial Action

On the 29th of June 2022, Mr. Elliott announced that the government would make necessary modifications to the rail fleet at a cost of $254 million. This followed two years of pressure from the rail union who had claimed that the trains were unsafe in their present form. The decision was described as a "major backdown" for the New South Wales government who had maintained the view that the trains were safe. 

Mr. Elliott expected the union to scale back their industrial action as a result of the announcement stating: “My expectation from the union, of course, is that they wind back their industrial action." However, as the government did not sign an agreement to put the changes into writing, the RTBU's industrial action continued. 

Mr. Elliott described the continued industrial action on the 1st of July as "an act of shame and dishonesty on the Labor movement," and "the most politically motivated industrial action since the sacking of Gough Whitlam." Mr. Elliott also suggested that the strikes were intended to motivate people to vote for NSW Labor. 

The $2.88 billion rail fleet, which was first intended to begin service in 2019, is currently idle in storage on the NSW central coast. The government has estimated a cost to taxpayers of $30 million per month while the fleet remains in its current form. The industrial action was estimated to have cost the NSW economy $45 million

The NSW government was also engaged in industrial disputes across other areas of the public service during the same period.

Intimidation by Lockdown Critic

In August of 2021 it was reported that a man had been charged for intimidating Mr. Elliott. Mr Elliott was walking in Baulkham Hills at roughly 3pm on Friday the 20th when Daniel Joseph Luland approached him. The exchange was filmed by Mr. Luland before then being posted to ‘anti-lockdown groups’ and posted to the twitter handle RedRum2198. 

The footage of the interaction shows Mr. Luland questioning Mr. Elliott on the difference in COVID lockdowns between the Northern Beaches of Sydney compared to Bondi Beach. Mr. Elliott responded after several interjections that he “felt intimidated,” and began walking away from Mr. Luland. Mr. Luland then continued to follow Mr. Elliott for almost 150 meters to a nearby shopping centre. 

Another person, identified as Stephen Parnell, can be heard in the footage attempting to intervene and telling the man to leave Mr. Elliott alone and “mind your own business,” before Mr. Luland tells him to “fuck off.” The end of the footage shows Mr. Elliott entering the shopping centre before then returning to outside the entrance to complete his COVID check-in.

Mr. Luland was arrested 2 hours after the incident and called to appear at Parramatta Local Court on August 31st. While the magistrate agreed that the behaviour did amount to intimidation, Mr. Luland was not charged. Instead Mr. Luland was granted a six-month conditional release order on account of his PTSD from having served in the Australian Defence Force and a lack of any prior conditions.

Holiday during Black Summer Bushfires Emergency As Minister for Emergency Services

Similar to then-Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Mr. Elliott, in his capacity as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, also went on a holiday during the Black Summer Bushfires in December of 2019.

In response to media questions regarding the decision, Mr. Elliott responded:

"Bushfire-affected communities and firefighters are always at the front of my mind during this difficult time in NSW. I will continue to receive two briefings each day from the RFS [Rural Fire Service] Commissioner. If the bushfire situation should demand it, I will return home."

After several days travelling in the UK, Mr. Elliott cut his holiday short and returned from London. In a later Facebook post, Mr. Elliott stated that his absence was "inexcusable" and that he "should have put my RFS family first and foremost given the current conditions." The change in course was described as a "backflip" by the media as Mr. Elliott made the change within an hour of The Sydney Morning Herald being informed he would not be cutting his holiday short. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, several Liberal colleagues criticised Mr. Elliott's decision, with one senior minister stating "He should be here, not in London. We just lost three lives." Another staffer asked "Why do we even have an Emergency Services Minister if he is not going to be here in an emergency?" Another minister claimed it was "nuts" that Mr. Elliott chose to leave for his holiday. 

After suggestions that the firefighters and other volunteers on the ground during the Black Summer Bushfires were entitled to payment, Mr. Elliott agreed with NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, in rejecting the idea. Mr. Elliott stated to The Australian: "Anyone who is arguing we have to pay them doesn't understand the ethos of the volunteer in this country."

Sources & Further Reading

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