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Ex-Labor leader McKay gives final speech

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There were tears and laughter in the NSW Parliament as former NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay gave her final speech as an MP.

With almost 15 years in parliament and more than seven portfolios under her belt, the former Newcastle member called time on her career in politics in October.

Her decision to leave comes months after the 52-year-old relinquished her position as NSW Labor leader after a damaging by-election loss in the Upper Hunter in May.

In a tearful news conference at the time, she said she felt forced to quit, claiming she was destabilised by some within her party.

Giving her valedictory speech on Tuesday, Ms McKay took one final, thinly-veiled shot at her successor Chris Minns.

She noted her inaugural speech in 2007 had ended with a quote from French revolutionary Georges Danton, who was arrested, tried and executed by a handful of his own party members.

“But as Danton also said, ‘I would rather be guillotined than the guillotiner’. 

“I leave my office with a few what-ifs but certainly no regrets.

“I leave with my head held high,” she said, crying.

Ms McKay admitted many believed the end of her career had come to soon, but said she was confident in her decision.

Raised in the small town of Gloucester, she was elected to the seat of Newcastle in 2007, going on to hold a number of junior ministerial responsibilities in the Rees and Keneally governments.

She lost her seat at the 2011 election, later telling an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry her opponents had campaigned against her after she refused to accept – and reported to police – an alleged bribe in relation to a proposed coal terminal.

She returned to parliament as the member for Strathfield in 2015 and took over from Michael Daley as party leader in 2019.

Championing internal reform within the party, embracing multicultural communities and rebuilding Labor’s relationship with the bush are among her key achievements, Ms McKay said.

It was also a “tremendous honour” to have represented two electorates, she said.

Ms McKay thanked Domonic Perottet for his kind words when she announced her resignation, acknowledged the leadership of former Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and wished new Deputy Leader Prue Car all the best.

But, she did not mention Mr Minns.

Ms McKay is the fifth MP to quit in a month after Ms Berejiklian resigned amid an ICAC investigation on 1 October.

A by-election for Strathfield will be held at a date to be announced.

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