Reverend Fred Nile to quit NSW politics, names Lyle Shelton as successor

Christian Democratic Party founder Reverend Fred Nile will retire from NSW Parliament this year, with former Australian Christian Lobby boss Lyle Shelton slated to replace him.

Mr Nile announced on Sunday evening he would retire in November after close to 40 years in politics, having first been elected to Macquarie Street in 1981.

He will likely be replaced by Mr Shelton, the former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby and outspoken leader of the ‘No’ campaign in the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Mr Nile said the party’s state board had unanimously backed Mr Shelton to take over his position in the NSW Legislative Council, though it was still subject to the CDP’s State Council.

“I am delighted to be recommending Lyle Shelton as my successor and I am confident this news will be received with great enthusiasm by our members,” Mr Nile said.

“The need for unashamedly Christian voices in public life has only increased in recent years and I can think of no one better than Mr Shelton to carry this forward.”

Mr Shelton tweeted late on Sunday evening it was “a privilege and honour” to succeed the 86-year-old.

Mr Nile’s exit comes after a tumultuous two years within the party, with the NSW Electoral Commission warning last September it was considering deregistering the party for having fewer than 500 members.

The Electoral Commission warning occurred amid an internal dispute over the financial operation of the party between Mr Nile and other members, which landed in the Supreme Court late last year.

The party has been battling bitter internal divisions since a teenage member of the party tried to engineer a coup against Mr Nile in June 2019, amid accusations of mismanagement.

Mr Nile, whose Legislative Council seat is set to expire in 2023, is the only CDP member in Parliament. The party lost its only other upper house seat at the last election.

In a statement announcing his retirement, Mr Nile said he planned to remain active in the party as the immediate past president, honorary chairman of the board and editor and chief of the party newspaper and email newsletter.