Gladys Berejiklian wins remarkable political battle over koala protection laws – as the deputy premier backs down from his crossbench threat

  • NSW deputy premierJohn Barilaro has withdrawn Nationals crossbench threat
  • Follows crisis meeting talks with Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday morning 
  • The Coalition had clashed over changes to the state’s koala protection laws
  • Premier issued blunt ultimatum to deputy premier and his Nationals colleagues

NSW Nationals leader and deputy premierJohn Barilaro has withdrawn his threat to move his party to the crossbench over the state’s disputed koala protection laws.

The backdown comes after Premier Gladys Berejiklian demanded a commitment from the Nationals that they would remain united as a Coalition government until the next election in 2023 during crisis meeting talks on Friday morning.  

Mr Barilaro backed down after he blindsided Ms Berejiklian a day earlier when he announced his MPs would abstain from voting on coalition bills as they fought over changes to the koala protection plan.

Friday’s crisis meeting between Mr Barilaro and the Premier lasted 25 minutes.

‘He walked the government to the brink and he’s got nothing out of it,’ a Liberal source told the Daily Telegraph.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued a stunning ultimatum to her deputy and Nationals MPs on Thursday

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued a stunning ultimatum to her deputy and Nationals MPs on Thursday

‘The premier stared him down.

‘She showed him that she would no longer tolerate his bullying behaviour.

Another source told the Sydney Morning Herald there will be no National Party room revolt. 

There are reports Mr Balilaro’s leadership of the Nationals could now be in doubt with a senior Liberal source claiming Mr Barilaro had ‘100 per cent capitulated’. 

It comes after Ms Berejiklian issued a short but blunt ultimatum to the deputy premier and his Nationals colleagues in a 60 second meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Barilaro had blindsided the Premier hours earlier, announcing his MPs would abstain from voting on coalition bills as they fought changes to the protection plan.

The move effectively robbed the government of its majority and provoked a stern response from the premier.

NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro (pictured) has backed down from his crossbench threat in a crisis meeting with the Premier (in background) on Friday morning

NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader John Barilaro (pictured) has backed down from his crossbench threat in a crisis meeting with the Premier (in background) on Friday morning

‘It is not possible to be the deputy premier or a minister of the Crown and sit on the crossbench’, Ms Berejiklian fired off in a media statement.

She said Mr Barilaro and his Nationals ministerial colleagues had until Friday morning to declare support for her government or be sacked from cabinet.

‘If required, I will attend Government House tomorrow and swear in a new ministry,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

Mr Barilaro appeared to have softening his stance by Friday morning, telling Sydney’s 2GB radio he thought the issue could be resolved but it may take time, possibly several weeks.

He also claimed the threat to sit on the crossbench had been misinterpreted.

The National party announced its MPs will abstain from voting on government bills until changes are made to koala protection policy before Ms Berejiklian gave them the ultimatum

The National party announced its MPs will abstain from voting on government bills until changes are made to koala protection policy before Ms Berejiklian gave them the ultimatum

‘What we said yesterday was that no one would go physically to the cross bench,’ Mr Barilaro said. 

‘But what was turned on us because we said we won’t vote on government bills until this is resolved but we will vote on bills and motions on the regions that, effectively, the whole party’s gone to the crossbench.

‘They’re not sitting on the crossbench, we are not going to the crossbench.’

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