‘Bastardry’: Gladys calls rebel MP’s bluff in koala wars

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaros threat to quit the Coalition over a policy about koala habitats has been branded an act of political bastardry by a Liberal minister.The government was thrown into chaos on Thursday when the Nationals, led by deputy premier Mr Barilaro, effectively threatened to blow up the government by moving to the crossbench, over contentious planning legislation designed to protect koala habitats.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the party to fall into line or resign by 9am on Friday.
But her ultimatum, threatening to sack Nationals ministers unless they backed down threw into question whether she could govern without their support.
Mr Barilaro met with Ms Berejiklian on Friday morning and did not tender any resignations, and it’s understood no concessions were made to the Nationals to keep them on board.
But the Nationals leader claimed a “win”, telling 2GB’s Ray Hadley on Friday afternoon it was the first day he has been assured the party’s complaints about the legislation would be discussed at an upcoming cabinet meeting.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott blasted Mr Barilaro’s disloyalty on Friday, calling his position untenable.
“I think what we have seen out of John Barilaro is the greatest act of political bastardry in quite some time,” Mr Elliott told reporters.
“I think the disloyalty that we have seen out of the Deputy Premier makes his position untenable, and I also believe what we have seen out of Gladys Berejiklian is don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.
“Those that want to take her on, need to be able to follow through. Don’t make threats that you can’t follow through.”
The extraordinary breakdown comes after months of attempts behind closed doors to reach a compromise on koala policy.
The new guidelines will be used to determine if the animals would be threatened if land was cleared for development.
But the Nationals complain the guidelines go too far and will prevent landowners from managing their properties.
They also claim it’s poorly drafted without consultation.
The government maintains the changes better identify and protect koala habitats and that the new guidelines are flexible and developed with proper consultation.