Baird’s early exit means NSW loses a leader whose best years were yet to come


Gregory Melleuish, University of Wollongong

It used to be the case that participation in political life was considered to be a vocation, and that those who chose it were in it for the long haul, through thick and thin. The most prominent example of this in Australian history was Billy Hughes. Even after he lost the prime ministership in early 1923 he continued to be a member of the House of Representatives until his death in 1952.

That has all changed. Mike Baird’s resignation, both as New South Wales premier and from the state parliament, comes as somewhat of a shock. He is only 48, has been an MP for less than ten years and premier for less than three. One would have thought his best years in public life were ahead of him.

No scandals and no internal ructions

Baird has cited personal reasons for his decision to leave politics, and one can well sympathise with him in regard to the health of his parents and sister. Public life is demanding and invariably takes a toll on the personal lives of those who participate in it.

One should point out, though, that this is the case in many occupations, including the law, high-level finance and executive positions in the public service.

Baird is the fifth NSW premier in the last ten years, and only one of them lost their job as the result of an election. His predecessor, Barry O’Farrell, resigned in the wake of allegations he had failed to declare a bottle of Grange Hermitage as a gift.

One should ask if it is a good thing that the NSW premiership has been turned over so often in recent times. In this regard, it seems to resemble the turnover at the federal level.

Baird’s resignation was not caused by scandal or political machinations leading to him being overthrown. In his relatively short time as premier he has performed reasonably well. NSW has performed quite well in economic terms; there have been no issues in the area of power generation; and, as Baird points out, there has been infrastructure development.

Sure, there have been a few problems over the past year relating to council amalgamations and the attempt to close down the greyhound industry. Certainly 2016 was a much more difficult year for Baird than 2015.

The great unknown

One could argue, though, that the problems of 2016 could have been an important aspect of Baird’s political education, and one would have hoped it would make him a better and more effective premier. Alas, that is not to be the case.

Politicians like to argue that a political career is like any other career. This means they develop skills and capacities that make them good at their job. It also means they should become more effective the longer they spend in politics.

This was certainly the case with John Howard, who did not become prime minister until he had been in public life for more than 20 years.

In this regard we shall never know just how effective Baird might have been as a political leader. He became premier in 2014 and initially enjoyed considerable popularity. He won an election. And, like any political leader, he made a few mistakes that dinted his popularity.

At this stage, one would have expected that he would have taken advantage of his setbacks, as did Howard, to grow as political leader.

We will now not know the true capacities of Baird as a leader. Instead, a successor will have to take over and learn the ropes. It will be interesting to see how the NSW people react to yet another change in leadership.

The issue would seem to be that in the new world, for many politicians, a time in politics is just another stage in their careers as they progress to other things. This is not to deny that political life is a hard life. The problem may be the modern way of thinking of it as a career, as something one does just to satisfy ambition.

Australia, both federally and at the state level, needs good leadership if it is to thrive. Good leaders just don’t appear out of nowhere. They become good leaders by working hard and growing into their jobs.

The Conversation

Gregory Melleuish, Professor, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Billy Graham’s Grandson Resigns From Megachurch After Affair


Sadly, another has fallen.

TIME

A grandson of the influential evangelical pastor Billy Graham has resigned from the pulpit at a high-profile church in South Florida after church leaders discovered he was having an affair.

Tullian Tchividjian said that he returned from a trip a few months ago to find his wife having an affair, and that he in turn went on to a friend with whom he “sought comfort,” in a statement to the Washington Post. “I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues.”

“Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions,” he said.

The pastor, 42, has three children with his wife, Kim. Tchividjian was widely considered a rising star in evangelical circles and is the fourth Florida megachurch pastor to resign after having affairs, according to the Post.

Tchividjian’s grandfather, the 96-year-old Billy Graham, was an adviser to U.S. presidents…

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Yemen’s President Resigns as Capital Remains in Hands of Rebels


TIME

Yemen’s embattled President reportedly relinquished power on Thursday amid ongoing turmoil in Sana‘a, the capital, leaving the fate of the highly fractured country unclear.

The Associated Press and Reuters each reported President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s resignation, citing unnamed Yemeni officials. Shi‘ite rebels known as the Houthis had held the city since September while allowing Hadi to remain in his post, but the collapse of negotiations this week prompted violent clashes and led to the seizure of the presidential palace by the Houthis, and Thursday’s reported resignation.

The Yemeni Cabinet also resigned on Thursday as the government’s standoff with the Houthis showed no sign of letting up, despite indications on Wednesday of a deal to accelerate power-sharing reforms. The Houthis now appear to be pulling the strings in Sana‘a.

The turmoil in the capital threatens to further divide the impoverished country, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of…

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Mark Driscoll, top megachurch pastor, resigns


CNN Belief Blog

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) — Less than a year ago, Mark Driscoll, an evangelical pastor, was flying high.

His hometown Seattle Seahawks were in the Super Bowl, and the brash pastor scored a big, faith-fueled interview with five of the team’s top players, including quarterback Russell Wilson.

But in a remarkably fast fall from grace, Driscoll resigned Tuesday as pastor of Mars Hill Church, a congregation he founded 18 years ago and turned into a force in the mostly secular Pacific Northwest.

In a statement, Mars Hills’ board of overseers said Driscoll hadn’t committed any acts of “immorality, illegality or heresy” — sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.

Instead, the board said, Driscoll is guilty of “arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner.”

Driscoll was not asked to leave…

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Australia: Mary Jo Fisher to Quit Senate


MADAGASCAR PROTESTANT LEADER ‘DETAINED’ AS PRESIDENT RESIGNS


The head of the largest Protestant church in Madagascar has been detained by unspecified military personnel following the resignation of President Marc Ravalomanana, according to reports from the country’s capital, Antananarivo, reports Ecumenical News International.

The reports said that the president of the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), the Rev. Lala Rasendrahasina, was picked up on 17 March at a meeting with a newly-named four-member military directorate to discuss Madagascar’s political crisis.

President Ravalomanana, who is also a senior lay official of the FJKM, had earlier resigned and transferred his powers to the military directorate, following a campaign by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina to force him out of office.

Report from the Christian Telegraph