After winning a second ACT election and achieving the highest personal vote, Andrew Barr has declared he has "nothing left to prove" when it comes to questions of his popularity in Canberra.
While Mr Barr said he was very disappointed Labor lost two seats at October's election, he felt "considerable empowerment" from the ringing endorsement he personally received from voters in inner-city Kurrajong.
Mr Barr secured 22 per cent of the vote in the seat, compared to Liberal leader Alistair Coe's 16 per cent in the Gungahlin-based electorate in Yerrabi.
"I have been told for my entire chief ministership that I am unpopular," he said.
"I think now, after two election wins and getting the most votes of anyone, I guess I don't have to prove anything on that front anymore.
"I was by far and away the preferred chief minister, even amongst a section of Liberal voters. I don't feel I've got things to prove on a personal level and most of my critics in the last two elections have run against me and not been elected.
"It does feel like a settlement on a range of issues."
Mr Barr made the comments in the first of a two-part interview with The Canberra Times to mark the start of what's shaping up to be his final term in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
The 47-year-old opened up dealing with the twin crises of 2020, plotting with Greens leader Shane Rattenbury to win seats off the Canberra Liberals and what he believes he'll be remembered for.
"To sum it up, that I modernised Canberra," Mr Barr said of legacy.
"I took it from being a country town to being a vibrant mid-sized city."
Mr Barr said in the summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, he was forced to confront major crises in areas he'd never held ministerial responsibility for.
He admitted to feeling a little unsettled at the outset of both, but said he was well supported by his staff and the government officials steering the response to the respective events; Emergency Service Agency commissioner Georgeina Whelan during the fires and chief health officer Kerryn Coleman through the pandemic.
The national cabinet of Australian leaders has become somewhat of a "peer support group", he said, a unique forum for the nation's most senior politicians to ask questions and seek counsel.
Asked if he ever contemplated stepping aside amid the crises, Mr Barr said: "I would probably go the opposite".
"Almost every chief minister has had some sort of major issue that they have had to deal with," he said. "I sort of figured that there was going to be some in my time - they had all seemingly happened in one year.
"I felt quite prepared for it, well supported."
Mr Barr will lead a very different looking ACT government in the next term, with the Greens' election success giving them three seats in cabinet and three more on the Legislative Assembly crossbench.
Greens leader Shane Rattenbury has been appointed to the senior position of Attorney-General, while his newly elected colleagues Rebecca Vassarotti and Emma Davidson has been handed ministerial responsibility for environment and mental health.
The Labor leader has struck a conciliatory and pragmatic tone when asked this week about sharing power with an enlarged Greens team. After all, sharing power is all he's ever known.
Mr Barr would obviously have preferred Labor had won more seats on October 17, giving it claims to more members in cabinet and potentially the right to govern in majority.
But it's not like Labor was trying to stop Greens candidates from getting elected - quite the opposite.
"The strategy, and I talked about this was Shane, was that we were very happy to assist the Greens to win Liberal seats," he said.
"The Kurrajong result is a classic example of that, the Greens [Ms Vassarotti] coming from behind on primary votes to win the seat off Liberal Candice Burch on preferences. That was exactly what Shane and I talked about as being very possible in the electorate.
"We had an agreement that our candidates would certainly be going hard at that seat as well, but that our objective was to get the Liberals down to one - and we achieved that".
Mr Barr has confirmed he will hand over the Treasury portfolio in the coming term, although no date has been set.
"I might find it hard to give up, I love it," he said.
"There will be a handover and it's just a case of whether that is in 2022 or 2023 will depend on where we are with the economic recovery.
"What I don't want to do is handball a problem. My endeavour would be that within 24 months things are looking better for the ACT and Australia.
He has tapped transport minister Chris Steel as a future treasurer. Deputy Chief Minister Yvette, whom Mr Barr has anointed his eventual successor as Labor leader, might also be keen to take on greater responsibility for the ACT's finances, he said.
Mr Barr has not ruled out running again in 2024, but acknowledged that in football parlance he was "possibly in the final quarter".
As with all long-serving politicians nearing the end of their career, questions about legacy and memorable achievements start to arise.
Mr Barr said that once built, the big battery promised ahead of the ACT election would one of the "legacy items". Tax reform, LGBTIQ laws, light rail, the West Basin development, AFL football and cricket at Manuka Oval and changes to compulsory third party insurance would also be on his list.
Asked to sum up his legacy, he offered that Canberra had grown up under his chief ministership.
"I would sum it up this way," he said.
"Nearly everyone of my generation felt they had to leave Canberra in order to have a better life, be that professionally or personally. The city offered nothing for them other than a career in the public service.
"I think the greatest success will be that is not the choice that faces the generation of Year 12 graduates in 2024. "Because they will have a wider range of choice and opportunity.
"This will be a place they want to stay in."