Calling it quits: Nathan Rees. Photo: Tamara Dean
Former NSW Premier Nathan Rees has announced he will quit Parliament at next year's state election, declaring "the time is right to seek new challenges" after 17 years in politics.
Mr Rees made the announcement on Friday, almost one year to the day until the 2015 poll and after a redistribution that turned his western Sydney electorate of Toongabbie into Seven Hills, a notionally Liberal seat.
"This isn't a decision that I've taken lightly," Mr Rees said. "It's been a live issue for me since the last election in which I won the seat narrowly. And I've taken counsel from a number of people over recent years."
Mr Rees, who served as NSW premier between September 2008 and November 2009, said he would leave Parliament "satisfied that I've done my best as local member, as minister and premier".
Among the achievements he listed were banning political donations from property developers, saving the River Red gums and overhauling NSW freedom of information laws.
Mr Rees also declared his pride in taking "a strong stand against corruption", citing his 2009 decisions to seize control of the Right to select his own ministry from the caucus and to sack Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald from cabinet.
In an apparent reference to recent Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries into the actions of former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Mr Macdonald, Mr Rees said he "did the right thing".
ICAC has heard corrupt activity by Mr Obeid could be traced to his control, with Mr Tripodi, of a dominant subfaction of the caucus called the Terrigals.
This delivered them extraordinary power over ministerial appointments and government decision making.
"NSW Labor must never again allow the circumstances to develop in which a small cabal of self interested individuals can control the fate of a great party," Mr Rees said.
He singled out for praise the former deputy premier and retiring Marrickville MP, Carmel Tebbutt, whom he described as "a guiding light for all of us in NSW Labor and beyond".
Mr Rees' time in Parliament has not been without its controversies. Last year, after an extra-marital affair was reported by the media, he stood aside as opposition police spokesman.
But perhaps best remembered will be the statement he made before a 2009 caucus ballot in which he was challenged and replaced as premier by Kristina Keneally.
Mr Rees famously declared that whoever succeeded him as premier would be a "puppet" of Mr Tripodi and Mr Obeid.
The "puppet Premier" tag dogged Ms Keneally during her time in office.