Research advocate Gabrielle Upton to quit NSW state politics


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Eastern Sydney Liberal MP Gabrielle Upton will quit state politics at the next election. Ms Upton led the taskforce responsible for government’s current focus on research and development in New South Wales, which culminated in a record science spend in last month’s budget.

On Wednesday morning the former environment minister and attorney-general released a statement saying she would not recontest her seat of Vaucluse at the March 2023 election.

Gabrielle Upton
Gabrielle Upton

“I have had almost twelve amazing years representing my local area as their MP, serving as a Minister in the Liberal Coalition Government across four portfolios and as Parliamentary Secretary to two Premiers,” Ms Upton said.

“Most proudly, I served as both the first female Attorney General and the first female Liberal Sports Minister in NSW.

“I have given everything I have to this calling – my heart, energy and passion – and I have loved every minute of it. That said, I know in my heart that this is the right time to retire. It is the time for someone else to take my place and for me to do something new.”

Following a legal career, Ms Upton entered Parliament in the 2011 New South Wales election and made Minister for Sport and Recreation in 2013. She moved to Minister for Family and Community Services in the Baird government in 2014 and was promoted to Attorney General following the 2015 election.

She retained senior minister roles in the Berejiklian government, but her staff later complained about delays in decision making, a “toxic” work environment and senior bureaucrats being “treated with contempt”. Ms Upton denied the claims but was not reappointed to the ministry following the 2019 election.

In her later political career Ms Upton served as a Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier where she led a taskforce investigating pathways to boosting R&D translation in New South Wales alongside the state’s chief scientist and engineer Hugh Durrant-White and David Gonski.

The push would produce a ‘Turning Jobs into Ideas’ action plan with recommendations for innovation programs, a dedicated R&D government department, open data policies, innovation precincts, university support and more targeted support for certain industries.

The recommendations received funding commitments of $62 million, while an RNA pilot manufacturing facility Ms Upton pushed for has also received $92 million.

In last month’s state budget several of these initiative were extended as part of a record commitment to science and innovation funding.

Ms Upton thanked her family and constituents on Wednesday.

“As the State’s first female Attorney General I am thankful to have led reforms to support child victims in child sexual assault proceedings and as Environment Minister to have introduced the Return and Earn container deposit litter reduction scheme.

“Over the last three years, I have led the State’s first $60 million accelerating R&D Action Plan in a major boost for science and innovation which received an additional investment of over $480 million in the NSW 2022-23 Budget.”

Ms Upton will serve out her term in Parliament and continue her role as Secretary to the Premier until next year’s election.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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