Cansdell resigns from parliament
STEVE Cansdell offers no excuse for the mistake that ultimately cost him his prized job as the Member for Clarence and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Police.
"I made a dumb choice six years ago and just didn't realise the consequences," he said.
Mr Cansdell, with points running out on his licence, was booked for speeding. A successful prosecution would have cost him his licence.
So, in a statutory declaration, he claimed a third party (who he declined to identify) was driving.
He kept his licence, but it has now cost him his job.
And he will be charged over the false declaration.
"I didn't realise the gravity of it," he said.
Mr Cansdell was clearly emotional as he announced his resignation yesterday.
He had been the member for eight and a half years, working seven days a week and long hours. He had just been elected to the government benches and was hoping to get some gains for the electorate, but in 48 hours it all came crashing down.
After learning on Thursday of the severity of the offence, he handed to Nationals leader Andrew Stoner his resignation as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Police.
Then, at 11am yesterday, he sent an email to the speaker of the house, handing in his resignation as the member for Clarence. He received a reply at 11.30am saying it had been accepted.
"It was the toughest decision I have ever made," he said.
"When I spoke with Andrew Stoner he accepted my resignation as a parliamentary secretary, but thought I could ride it out as the member for Clarence.
"I don't think it would have been honourable to ride it out.
"Sometimes you just have to fall on your sword."
Mr Cansdell said he had loved his job and loved the community he served.
"I thank people from the bottom of my heart for the support they have shown," he said.
Steve Cansdell, the sign writing former champion boxer, was elected to the then Grafton City Council in 1993.
In 1996 he joined the National Party with a view to winning the 1999 state election against Harry Woods. He came close, missing out by 139 votes after preferences from Liberal candidate Bill Day drifted to Labor.
In 2003, against Labor candidate Terry Flanagan, he won the seat with 51.6% of the vote. In 2007 he increased his margin to 61.7% and in March this year won in a landslide with about 72%.
"I feel in a lot of ways that I have let the people of the Clarence down," he said.
"This will give politicians a bad rap, but I can wear that. I just didn't realise the gravity of the offence."
Mr Cansdell said he took all documentation about the false declaration to police yesterday and expected to be charged.
He said he had not yet been charged.
Mr Stoner said Mr Cansdell had been a hard-working member who paid the ultimate price for a lapse in judgment.
He said he had been told by Mr Cansdell that a second accusation, that he had misused a staff member on a political campaign, was not accurate.