Bob calls it a day
By DAVID MOASE
That was the response of local Australian Labor Party members at yesterday's news that Premier Bob Carr will next Wednesday step down from the job he has held for 10 years.
Mr Carr, the NSW ALP leader since 1988, told a packed press conference yesterday that he wanted to be able to spend more quality time with his wife, Helena.
The announcement caught many in the party by surprise, including Pamela Stephenson, the ALP candidate for Coffs Harbour at the 2003 State election.
"It seems weird," Ms Stephenson said.
"I thought initially before Kim Beazley was elected federal opposition leader that Bob might have resigned to take that job, but now I am shocked."
Graham Ashton, the president of the Woolgoolga branch of the ALP, said he was exceedingly surprised by the news.
"It could make it hard for the ALP at the next election," he said.
Mr Carr had been a good premier for the people of Coffs Harbour, Mr Ashton said, especially for people concerned about the environment.
The Bongil Bongil National Park, the Coffs Coast Regional Park and the Garby Nature Reserve at Mullaway were among the Carr Government's achievements, as was the new Coffs Harbour hospital.
Not so impressed or surprised was Mr Carr's political rival Andrew Fraser.
The member for Coffs Harbour said he had expected the Premier to resign during the current parliamentary recess.
"He was very disinterested recently," Mr Fraser said.
"This is the longest recess I can remember in 15 years and I think the plan was always for him to swan around on his travels and then return and resign so the successor would bear the brunt of the bad news that will come in the next couple of years."
Mr Carr had failed to listen on issues such as the poker machine tax and the property vendor tax, Mr Fraser said, and he hoped the next premier would give regional NSW a better deal.
He said rumours in Parliament House during the past six months had pointed to Police Minister Carl Scully taking over the top job.
Mr Scully's name was being listed yesterday among the contenders to succeed Mr Carr, along with Planning Minister Craig Knowles and Health Minister Morris Iemma.