/ 05 October 2021

Picking up the pieces in NSW

Image source: NCA NewsWire
Image source: NCA NewsWire

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is set to become the state’s premier today following Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation on Friday after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced it was investigating her. It set in motion 2 more resignations: Deputy Premier and Nationals’ leader John Barilaro is leaving politics altogether, and Transport/Roads Minister Andrew Constance wants to have a go at the federal seat of Gilmore. Labor leader Chris Minns was scathing, saying the men should be focused on “your community, not your own career.” Perrottet will not get it all his own way today – he’ll need to beat Planning Minister Rob Stokes in the first contested leadership ballot the NSW Libs have had in almost 2 decades.

Her downfall stems from the secret relationship she had with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire. And at the centre of ICAC’s investigation are 2 grants awarded to organisations in Wagga while she was Treasurer. The first is $5.5 million to the clay target club (and Maguire is accused of trying to profit from the fit-out), and the 2nd is $20 million for Wagga’s conservatorium of music. She is accused of intervening to personally approve the funds, which she denies. ICAC also wants to know if she knew stuff about Maguire and failed to report it. The commission is notoriously slow to settle matters, and Berejiklian quit because she said the state requires certainty “during the challenging time for the pandemic.” In her future? She’s before the commission on 18 October. And she’s being touted for former PM Tony Abbott’s old seat.

Perrottet, a 39yo conservative who’s economically dry, has to get past Stokes today. They know each other well from their regular trot at lunchtime… But if Perrottet is victorious (as the numbers suggest), he will be supported by Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres as deputy. Ayres hails from Western Sydney, which is important in the geographical mix (and fun fact: he’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s partner). Lined up to be Treasurer is moderate dealmaker/Energy Minister Matt Kean. Whoever it is, they come in at a tricky time… COVID restrictions are set to ease with new daily cases still in the 600s, there will be 3 byelections to fight, and there’s a flagging economy to get firing again… Note: the NSW election will be held on 25 March 2023.

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