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Rob Stokes is the surf-loving devoted father preparing to take Gladys Berejiklian’s job

As the battle to replace Gladys Berejiklian as NSW premier begins, one of the top contenders has promised not to change the state’s lockdown exit plan if elected by his peers.

Ms Berejiklian announced her resignation on Friday after the Independent Commission Against Corruption disclosed the 51-year-old was under investigation for potential breaches of public trust.

She will also resign from parliament as soon as a by-election for her north Sydney seat of Willoughby can be held.

Ms Berejiklian will remain premier until the Liberal Party elects a replacement.

Planning minister and Pittwater member Rob Stokes – who has been described as a key ally of Ms Berejiklian – wants that to be him.

Planning minister and Pittwater member Rob Stokes – who has been described as a key ally of Ms Berejiklian – wants to be the next NSW premier (pictured left)

The 46-year-old sun-loving father (second from right) on Saturday said he'd been encouraged by the level of support from his party colleagues, many of who have urged him to nominate for leader

The 46-year-old sun-loving father (second from right) on Saturday said he’d been encouraged by the level of support from his party colleagues, many of who have urged him to nominate for leader

The 46-year-old sun-loving father on Saturday said he’d been encouraged by the level of support from his party colleagues, many of who have urged him to nominate for leader.

‘The NSW Liberal Party is blessed to have some very talented people in its ranks, who could all bring different qualities to the role of leader,’ he said in a statement.

‘But I believe my track record during my time in public office makes me the best candidate to lead the NSW government.

‘I have the right balance of experience, vision and integrity needed during this crucial time in our history, as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic.’

'The NSW Liberal Party is blessed to have some very talented people in its ranks, who could all bring different qualities to the role of leader,' he said in a statement

‘The NSW Liberal Party is blessed to have some very talented people in its ranks, who could all bring different qualities to the role of leader,’ he said in a statement

He said: 'I have the right balance of experience, vision and integrity needed during this crucial time in our history, as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic'

He said: ‘I have the right balance of experience, vision and integrity needed during this crucial time in our history, as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic’

Mr Stokes, who is a keen surfer in his downtime, is expected to go up against frontrunner Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who has told the ABC he has received ‘strong feedback’ from his colleagues on the matter.

‘I think Dom has strong claims to the job and he’s putting them out there,’ Mr Stokes earlier on Saturday told the ABC.

‘(But) I think I owe it to my community and to the people in NSW to at least provide them that choice,’ he told 7News.

Mr Stokes also praised Ms Berejiklian, expressing sadness over the end to her career and promising to abide by the roadmap out of lockdown that she unveiled only weeks ago.

Mr Stokes also praised Ms Berejiklian, expressing sadness over the end to her career and promising to abide by the roadmap out of lockdown that she unveiled only weeks ago (Rob Stokes with Gladys Berejiklian)

Mr Stokes also praised Ms Berejiklian, expressing sadness over the end to her career and promising to abide by the roadmap out of lockdown that she unveiled only weeks ago (Rob Stokes with Gladys Berejiklian)

Who is Rob Stokes? 

* The 46-year-old is the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.

* He has been the Member for Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches since 2007. 

* In his downtime Mr Stokes appears to enjoy his surfing – even handing out the winners’ medals at last years Narrabeen Classic surfing competition.

* He is married to Sophie Stokes.

* Mr Stokes grew up in Mona Vale and attended fee-paying Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) where he graduated with a Higher School Certificate in 1991. 

 

Restrictions are due to ease across NSW gradually from October 11, after more than 15 weeks of lockdown for Greater Sydney in response to an outbreak of the Delta Covid-19 variant.

Other potential contenders include Environment Minister Matt Kean, Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

Whoever succeeds Ms Berejiklian has a tough act to follow.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison led the tributes on Friday, lauding her ‘heroic’ qualities and saying she was a ‘dear friend’ and trusted by the community.

Even state Opposition Leader Chris Minns on Saturday thanked the premier, declining to sink the boot into the Liberal party over her demise.

'I think Dom has strong claims to the job and he's putting them out there,' Mr Stokes earlier on Saturday told the ABC

‘I think Dom has strong claims to the job and he’s putting them out there,’ Mr Stokes earlier on Saturday told the ABC

Mr Stokes, who is a keen surfer in his downtime, is expected to go up against frontrunner Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who has told the ABC he has received 'strong feedback' from his colleagues on the matter

Mr Stokes, who is a keen surfer in his downtime, is expected to go up against frontrunner Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who has told the ABC he has received ‘strong feedback’ from his colleagues on the matter

‘There’s plenty of time for politics… once the pandemic is over,’ he told reporters.

‘I cannot fault her dedication and hard work on behalf of the people of NSW, particularly over the last 15 weeks.

‘I’m sure that… will not be forgotten.’

Meanwhile supportive constituents have gathered outside her home with flowers and balloons while others put up handmade signs at her office reading ‘We love Gladys’ and ‘Long live Gladys’.

Dominic Perrottot is looking to become the next NSW Premier

Stuart Ayres is also in the running for the top job

Other potential contenders include Environment Minister Matt Kean, Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres (right), Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Attorney-General Mark Speakman

Ms Berejiklian’s leadership endured bushfires, drought and storms and she navigated Covid-19, but after four-and-a-half years in the top job, she couldn’t beat the ICAC.

The anti-corruption watchdog says it is investigating whether she ‘exercised public functions’ in a position of conflict given her secret five-year relationship with ex-MP Daryl Maguire, revealed at its hearings in late 2020.

Mr Maguire is accused of abusing his public office between 2012 and 2018.

A teary and at times angry Ms Berejiklian said on Friday she had ‘no option’ other than to resign, but she continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk