Former NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced his retirement from the Legislative Council of NSW after 28 years at the National’s Central Council meeting in Broken Hill this afternoon (Thursday).
Mr Gay joined the NSW Nationals in 1974 and was made a life member in 2011. He spent six years as the state’s Roads Minister between 2011 and 2017 but lost his job during NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Cabinet reshuffle in January. Mr Gay signalled at the time that he was likely to quit Parliament ‘sooner rather than later’.
He was also the Leader of the Nationals in the NSW Legislative Council.
Mr Gay said: “Since becoming Minister in 2011, I have spearheaded major motorway projects in Sydney like WestConnex and NorthConnex, championed movement of freight from ‘paddock to port’ and driven key road safety initiatives.
“As a young grazier from Crookwell, I would have never dreamed of being one of the state’s longest serving Ministers for Roads. I could not be prouder of what I have achieved in my portfolio over six years.”
Mr Gay said he had delivered the M5 West Widening project, mandated flashing lights at every NSW school and persuaded people to wear life jackets while out on the water.
Meanwhile tributes poured in from the Liberals and Nationals.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Mr Gay was ‘a key member of the team’ when the Coalition was elected to power in 2011 and had overseen the creation of the Roads and Maritime Services, as well as accelerated upgrades to the Princes, Pacific and Newell Highways.
“We enjoyed an extremely strong and close working relationship during my time as the Minister for Transport and Treasurer. Duncan was highly respected by both sides of the Legislative Council where he served as Leader of the House and Leader of the Government,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“He was valued for his wisdom and judgment, and his experience will be difficult to replace. I wish Duncan and his family all the best for the future.”
Deputy Premier and Leader of the NSW Nationals John Barilaro thanked Mr Gay for his years of service and for driving various infrastructure programs, many of which were targeted at regional Australia.
“Under his guidance, more money has been invested in rural and regional roads in NSW than in any other state in the country,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Programs like Bridges for the Bush, Fixing Country Roads and Fixing Country Rail mean that every person driving in regional NSW will benefit from Duncan’s leadership and legacy.”
He called Mr Gay a ‘passionate advocate for road users and the improvement of the road network across the state’ and welcomed his continued wisdom and guidance in the years to come while wishing him, and his wife Katie, well for the future.
NSW Nationals Party Chairman Bede Burke said Mr Gay had delivered around $38 billion of investment for projects to country NSW – almost two-thirds of the total amount for the state – and country people had a lot to thank him for.
“Right across NSW, drivers only have to look out their car windows to see all of the roads under construction – from Mulgoa to Molong to Moree.
“Duncan has been a firm and unshakeable figure in the Nationals for more than 40 years,” Mr Burke said. “The lives of people in regional NSW are markedly better because of Duncan and the party is supremely grateful for his lifetime of service.”
Deputy Leader of the NSW Nationals, Niall Blair said Mr Gay would be missed by all sides of the Chamber.
“History will record Duncan as one of the giants of the Legislative Council,” Mr Blair said.
“His contributions over 28 years are too many to list and his record for fighting for the best deal in regional NSW will serve as a great example for those of us who remain.”
Mr Gay’s last sitting day will be June 22.