Senior NSW Liberal MPs are calling for Nationals leader John Barilaro to consider his future in the wake of last week’s stoush that threatened to destroy the Coalition.
- Mr Barilaro threatened that Nationals MPs would move to the crossbench over the Government’s koala policy
- He backed down when Premier Gladys Berejiklian said they could not do that and remain ministers
- Police Minister David Elliot says Mr Barilaro’s position as Nationals leader is now untenable
Police Minister David Elliott said Mr Barilaro’s position was no longer tenable and appealed to the Nationals party room to “consider their leader”.
“I think the fact he’s gone to ground at the moment is weak and he probably needs to consider his own position,” Mr Elliott said.
“The National Party really needs to consider who their leader is because he doesn’t have their best interests at heart.”
On Friday, Mr Barilaro was forced to back down from his threat that Nationals MPs would move to the crossbench without relinquishing their ministerial portfolios.
It followed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s warning they could not do both.
The clash was sparked by Nationals MPs’ fury over a policy designed to protect koalas.
John Barilaro had threatened that his party’s MPs would stop supporting the Government.(AAP: Joel Carrett)
Transport Minister Andrew Constance today said there were “some questions to be asked” of Mr Barilaro in the wake of last week’s drama.
He stopped short of calling for his resignation, saying it was a matter for Mr Barilaro and his party.
“There’s no point of me reflecting on John’s leadership that’s a matter for his conscience,” he said.
Mr Constance said he was angry over a text message sent by the National Party to farmers on Friday after “they’d reached agreement that morning to be good Coalition partners”.
Asked if he was happy to continue working with Mr Barilaro, he replied: “After Friday I’m finding it really hard to answer that because you don’t go and strike an agreement and then do that.”
Nationals MP Bronnie Taylor said the party was standing by Mr Barilaro and there were “no moves” to replace him as leader.
“A good leader makes tough decisions and takes a stand even when it’s difficult,” she said.
“The public want bravery and honesty in their politicians and John exemplifies that.”
Ms Berejiklian would not be drawn on whether Mr Barilaro should remain leader, but she called for unity.
“As Premier, my responsibility is to work with the leader of the Nationals and Deputy Premier, and that is what I will continue to do, but it is not for me to decide who that person is,” she said.
“What I don’t want is people of any description to think they can publicly air issues at the risk of creating any sort of distraction for the community.
“The people of this state come first. No single person, no single agenda. This isn’t about one issue, this is about how we govern.”
Premier prepared to call deputy’s bluff
Ms Berejiklian revealed she had been poised to make good on her threat to swear in an all-Liberal cabinet had Mr Barilaro not backed down during their meeting on Friday morning.
“Everything was ready and I want to make that very clear we’d made arrangements that if I wanted to take that course then I would have.”
Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres was also critical of Mr Barilaro’s actions and said it for him to decide whether he wanted to continue as Nationals leader.
“If you’re going to choose to do that you must act like a leader, you must act like someone who brings the community together, you must act like Gladys Berejiklian,” he said.
“We cannot use leadership to exploit people’s fears that’s lazy leadership.”
Police Minister David Elliott says the koala policy was not raised as a problem in Cabinet.(AAP: James Gourley)
Mr Elliot said in nine months of Cabinet meetings, Mr Barilaro had not raised the koala policy as an issue.
“I’m very frustrated that he’s tried to blow up this Government on something that’s wasn’t on the political radar,” he said.
“He quickly backed down and the message to him is: If you’re going to put a gun to somebody’s head, make sure it’s not a water pistol.
“I’m suggesting his leadership is untenable.”
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said she would move a vote of no confidence against the Government when Parliament resumed this week.
She has also said Mr Barilaro’s position is untenable following what she has described as “a capitulation that no-one expected”.
Airport metro stations announced
Ms Berejiklian, Mr Constance and Mr Ayres today announced the locations for six train stations connecting to the new Nancy Bird-Walton (Western Sydney International) Airport.
The stations will be located at St Marys under the existing train station, Orchard Hills, Luddenham, the Airport Business Park, Western Sydney Aerotropolis and at the new airport’s terminal.
Work on the six metro stations connecting to Western Sydney Airport will begin later this year.(Supplied: NSW Government)
Inspecting the site of the future Western Sydney Aerotropolis Station, Ms Berejiklian said the airport metro project would create 14,000 construction jobs and inject billions of dollars into the state and Australian economies.
“It means that people from a greater part of NSW won’t be looking at the eastern part of Sydney for the jobs you’ll be looking west to get the best jobs in NSW,” she said.
Owners of the 19 residential buildings and one commercial building that will be acquired as part of the development were doorknocked on Friday.
The 23 kilometre driverless railway line will include 10 kilometres of twin tunnels, for which the tender process has begun.
Construction on the metro stations is expected to generate 14,000 jobs.(Supplied: NSW Government)
Construction will begin before the end of the year and new metro is expected to open in 2026, in time to service the new airport.
Mr Constance said it was hoped a future government could extend the metro line to Leppington in Sydney’s south-west.
Mr Ayres said the Government had secured partners from around the world who were committed to the location.
“We’ve got our world-class universities committed to this site and we’ve already got our world-leading CSIRO committed to the site,” he said.
He said once complete, the project would opened up the opportunity to generate 200,000 new jobs in the region.
“For the first time, the infrastructure is coming before the houses to allow the jobs and investment to take place in Western Sydney,” he said.
An artist’s impression of Western Sydney Airport from the skies.(ABC News: supplied)
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