Adrian re­flects on ca­reer

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ZOE MCMAUGH

The peo­ple of the Mur­ray elec­torate, many of them now life-long friends, will be what Adrian Pic­coli will miss most about pol­i­tics.

Last week Mr Pic­coli con­firmed he would re­tire as the state Mem­ber for Mur­ray, and his last of­fi­cial day on the job will be this Fri­day.

It ends an al­most 20-year ca­reer as a politi­cian.

While he said he has en­joyed rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple in his com­mu­nity, Mr Pic­coli’s new role as director of a newly cre­ated in­sti­tute for ed­u­ca­tion with the Univer­sity of NSW will al­low him to con­cen­trate on his pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion and spend more time with his fam­ily.

‘‘One of my great­est achieve­ments dur­ing my time in govern­ment has been to marry my wife So­nia, and wel­come two won­der­ful chil­dren — Finn, 9, and Jasper, 6.

‘‘They have only ever known me as a par­lia­men­tar­ian and be­ing away from home so of­ten.

‘‘They were a big rea­son why I made this de­ci­sion.

‘‘As the New South Wales Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion I put ru­ral and re­mote ed­u­ca­tion on the govern­ment agenda.

‘‘It has re­ceived more fo­cus and money than we have ever seen, and I was also a large part of the Gon­ski agree­ment.

‘‘That has been es­pe­cially good for coun­try schools, with schools in the De­niliquin and South­ern Rive­rina ar­eas re­ceiv­ing more money than ever be­fore.

‘‘A big part of my role with the univer­sity is on ru­ral and re­mote ed­u­ca­tion, so I will con­tinue to be based in Grif­fith for that.

‘‘It will al­low me to spend more time in schools, like I did when I was min­is­ter, speak­ing with teach­ers, prin­ci­pals, par­ents and stu­dents.

‘‘That may in­clude some vis­its back to De­niliquin and the South­ern Rive­rina.’’

Mr Pic­coli was elected as The Na­tion­als’ Mem­ber for Mur­rumbidgee in 1999 and has been re­elected with a ma­jor­ity at ev­ery elec­tion since.

He has rep­re­sented the Ed­ward River Council and sur­round­ing ar­eas most of that time, ex­cept for a two term stint from 2007 when this re­gion was moved into the elec­torate of Mur­ray-Dar­ling and served by John Williams.

Another bound­ary re­dis­tri­bu­tion then saw parts of Mur­rumbidgee and Mur­ray-Dar­ling joined to make the cur­rent seat of Mur­ray.

‘‘One of the high­lights of this job has been what I’ve been able to achieve for in­di­vid­u­als — that’s the ev­ery­day of my job and I have had a lot of per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion in do­ing that.

‘‘More of­ten than not I was able to get some wins.

‘‘On an elec­torate wide ba­sis, there have been some hard bat­tles on wa­ter, health, the red gum is­sue — which I have vowed to con­tinue to help with — and na­tive veg­e­ta­tion.

‘‘I would like to think I have won most of them.

‘‘I have worked ev­ery day, as hard as I can, to make sure my con­stituents have been heard.’’

Mr Pic­coli said wa­ter is one is­sue that has been con­sis­tently in the spot­light since he was elected, par­tic­u­larly with the tim­ing of his en­try into pol­i­tics.

‘‘The hard­est pe­riod of my job was at the be­gin­ning, dur­ing the Mil­len­nium Drought.

‘‘It re­ally knocked the wind out of the whole com­mu­nity, and we saw a lot of peo­ple leave the district.

‘‘And then there was the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan; be­tween the two of them they re­ally knocked the stuff­ing out of peo­ple.

‘‘I think we’ve only just started to re­cover from the so­cial im­pli­ca­tions of both in the last 12 months.

‘‘De­niliquin seems to have an air of pos­i­tiv­ity again and the econ­omy is bounc­ing back.’’

While proud of how hard he has fought for his con­stituents in the last 18 years, Mr Pic­coli said he will de­light in not hav­ing to go to bat­tle ev­ery day.

‘‘The na­ture of com­bat­ive pol­i­tics can be re­ward­ing, but it also takes a lot out of you. ‘‘I also won’t miss the travel. ‘‘The travel in the elec­torate was fine and of­ten ap­pre­ci­ated, but I will not miss hav­ing to go to Syd­ney.’’

Ed­u­ca­tion was Mr Pic­coli’s only port­fo­lio dur­ing his time in govern­ment, but he was also elected deputy leader of The Na­tion­als in 2009. He re­lin­quished his lead­er­ship role vol­un­tar­ily in 2016 fol­low­ing strong crit­i­cism against the NSW Na­tion­als over some po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

Im­me­di­ately be­fore his foray into pol­i­tics, Mr Pic­coli was work­ing on the fam­ily rice farm in Grif­fith with his fa­ther and brother.

He had pre­vi­ously grad­u­ated from Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity in Can­berra with a Bach­e­lor of Eco­nom­ics and Bach­e­lor of Law, and had been work­ing as a so­lic­i­tor in Syd­ney and Grif­fith.

He said his de­ci­sion to stand in the 1999 state elec­tion was as a re­sult of his so­cial con­science.

‘‘I al­ways had an in­ter­est in what was hap­pen­ing in my com­mu­nity, and I wanted an out­let to ex­press those opin­ions,’’ he said.

Adrian Pic­coli says his re­tire­ment from pol­i­tics will al­low him to spend more time with his wife So­nia and their chil­dren Finn, 9, and Jasper, 6.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.