Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has announced his retirement as Victorian Labor leader, Premier and member for Williamstown. The announcement came at 10.40am, following a Cabinet meeting.
Bracks said he had recently made the choice that he could no longer make the commitment to the job. He confirmed that recent events involving his son contributed to his decision.
“We have been a hard-working, responsible and compassionate government,” Bracks said. “I could not have given more to this job.” He said that as soon as he realised he could not commit to the 2010 election he decided the decision had to be made public.
Bracks said it had been an emotional atmosphere in the Cabinet meeting this morning. He paid tribute to his ministers, singling out John Thwaites and John Brumby for special mention. He said Brumby “is by any measure the best Treasurer” of any government in Australia.
A caucus meeting has been called for 11am on Monday to choose a new leader. Bracks said he would remain Premier until then. He made it clear that he would be voting for John Brumby to succeed him.
- Listen to Steve Bracks’ Resignation Press Conference:
Statement from Premier Steve Bracks.
I have just left a meeting with my Cabinet Ministers, where I have informed them I intend to resign as Premier, Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party and as the Member for Williamstown.
No decision of this nature is easy. But I believe it is absolutely the right decision. Right for the State, right for the Government and right for the Labor Party. It is also the right decision for Terry and our family.
The Government could not be in better shape. We have a talented and cohesive team. We enjoy a strong mandate from the Victorian people. There is an ambitious and realistic program to deliver water security, a strong economy, strong regions and continuous improvement in health, education and public safety.
Victoria now is so much better than it was 8 years ago.
Today, 400,000 Victorians have new jobs and our unemployment rate is the lowest since the 1980s.
Regional Victoria has shared in this economic success – unemployment in regional Victoria now is around half of what it was when we came to government.
Our population has been growing faster than at any time in the past 40 years, helping to drive a dynamic, high-skilled economy.
And we have been delivering the dividends of that economic growth in better services.
In education, literacy and numeracy rates have improved. Retention rates to year 12 are now 81 per cent and rising. Eight years ago they were 77 per cent and falling.
Our hospital emergency departments are among the most effective and efficient in the nation. We now treat 26 per cent more patients each year than eight years ago.
We are safer. Crime rates in Victoria are a massive 22 per cent lower than when we came to office – lower because we have been tough on crime, we have increased penalties and we have given the police the resources they need.
And Victoria is now fairer and more accountable with the restoration of the powers of the Auditor-General, DPP and the Parliament.
All of this has been done while maintaining sound fiscal policies and first restoring, then securing, our AAA credit rating.
We have also confronted the great challenges of the future – water security, climate change and productivity.
Melbourne will be drought proof within five years and we will be able to move water to areas of need all over Victoria.
We acted early on climate change by buying green energy, encouraging renewable power generation and cutting domestic and industrial consumption.
And we have proclaimed the most number of national parks in Victoria’s history.
Through the National Reform Agenda we delivered a plan to drive the next wave of reform to help shape our future.
Victoria is also now a more cohesive society and we have a sense of community quite remarkable for a State as large and diverse as ours.
I am also personally proud that Labor in Victoria is now seen as the responsible financial manager. I had an ambition to rehabilitate Labor in Victoria – I believe we have succeeded.
As someone from provincial Victoria, I also take pride that no matter where you live, you now have a better prospect of getting a job and getting access to high quality services than when we came to office.
Against this background of real achievement, I believe the circumstances are right and the time is right for a new leader.
As I said, the Government in is good shape, with a talented team, a strong majority and with solid policy foundations to tackle the challenges ahead.