Gladys Berejiklian has remained tight-lipped on her successor’s disastrous attempt to hold onto government in NSW after stepping down from the top post two years ago, as government insiders hint at a feud.
The retired NSW premier neglected to appear at Dominic Perrottet’s side even once as he floundered in the polls through a difficult election campaign, nor did she appear in photos endorsing him.
As an insider told the Daily Telegraph, Ms Berejiklian’s refusal to help her successor’s cause “spoke volumes”.
Tellingly, she did pose with under-fire Penrith MP Stuart Ayres and his wife federal senator Marise Payne a week ago when the trio had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, snapping a photo that made it to Mr Ayres’ Instagram.
Government insiders cited by the publication said Ms Berejiklian had a “host of good reasons” not to endorse Mr Perrottet — primarily that he failed to support her in the final months of her embattled premiership.
Mr Perrottet repeatedly refused to attend the 11am daily press conferences held by Ms Berejiklian through Sydney’s second lockdown, and broke from party ranks when he endorsed Black Lives Matter protesters while public gatherings were still banned.
Eyebrows were raised during the election campaign when Mr Perrottet claimed he and Ms Berejiklian were close. In the words of one source: “This is simply not true. They barely ever speak.”
Labor came out of Saturday’s election victorious and will likely form a majority government, while Mr Perrottet announced he would immediately stand down as leader of the state’s Liberal party.
Chris Minns: ‘NSW has voted for a fresh start’
Premier-elect Chris Minns arrived to a roaring crowd at Labor HQ in Brighton Le Sands, in Sydney’s south, at 10.30pm on Saturday for a victory speech, declaring: “The people of NSW have voted for a fresh start”.
“It’s undeniably the case that this election campaign was, perhaps uniquely, a model of respect and civility. Neither party took the low road, neither political party took the low blow,” Mr Minns added.
“It can be a model for the way democracy is done right across this country.”
Mr Minns’ victory means every state and territory in Australia – bar Tasmania – has a Labor government.
He also reflected on two of his key campaign issues – ending privatisation and removing the public sector wage cap.
“I’m proud to say today the people of NSW voted for the removal of the unfair wages,” he said.
“They voted for our nurses, our teachers … our paramedics and police.
“There was a basic acknowledgment at the end of the day that during the Covid emergency the people of NSW that work in our hospitals, schools, and emergency department put themselves second and the public first.”
Baffling moment after speech
But the Premier-elect had to avoid a potentially sticky situation from an over enthusiastic Labor supporter.
Mr Minns was praised for resisting the urge to do a ‘shoey’ moments after his speech.
Televised footage captured the moment a man in the crowd rushed to the front of the stage holding a bottle of beer in his shoe and gesturing for him to down the beverage.
Filmmaker Dan Sanguineti said the shoey had been “forced” right in front of Mr Minns and he was wise to have avoid it.
“It would have undone a genuinely wholesome and positive campaign. He passed his first test well.”
Perrottet’s classy speech
Mr Perrottet arrived at the Liberal’s major party function at the Sydney Hilton to deliver a sombre but classy speech, shortly after privately calling Mr Minns to concede defeat.
“As leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party, I take full responsibility for the loss this evening … We need a fresh start for the Liberal Party,” he said.
“I want to thank the community of Epping and recognise they continue support and thank you very much for supporting me at this election.”
He heaped praise on Mr Minns for keeping the election campaign from becoming “ugly”.
“The great people of NSW have tonight decided to elect a Labor government into this state, and that is a decision that we respect. I particularly tonight want to acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition. Elections can get ugly, but I believe this election are truly was a race to the top. A genuine battle of ideas, and that is when politics is at its best,” he said amid cheers in the room.
“In many ways, that is due to Chris Minns and of the way that he has carried himself throughout this campaign. And that is why I truly believe and have no doubt that he will make a fine 47th Premier of NSW.
“I believe he will lead with the same decency of the same integrity that he has led with so far. And ultimately, I ask everybody across New South Wales, whatever your political persuasion, to get behind him.”
Mr Perrottet said he was proud of what the Liberal government had achieved and it had “made history” as the longest serving government.
Highlights from the government’s time in power include three more metros, a second airport opening soon, five days of free preschool for children and abolishing stamp duty for first homeowners as well as tackling gambling, Mr Perrottet added
“We have achieved all of this while navigating some of the most difficult times, droughts, fires, floods and we have pushed through the pandemic and lead our nation out of lockdown,” he added.
Labor secures landslide win
Labor have secured 47 seats by the end of Saturday night. The Liberal Party lost Ryde, Terrigal and Camden, with double-digit swings in those seats towards Labor.
Chris Minns will be the 47th Premier of the state – leading his party to an election win after 12 years in opposition — while Dominic Perrottet and his Coalition government have been booted from power.
The former premier was facing a tough fight in retain his seat of Epping, but he has retained his seat
He currently has 52.8 per cent of the vote against Labor’s Alan Mascarenhas 47.2 per cent – a 8.5 per cent swing against the outgoing premier.
Liberal Party heavyweights unleash
Treasurer Matt Kean said the numbers were “hard to look at” but blamed the “12-year factor” for the Liberals’ woes.
“I think it’s the 12 year factor. No Coalition government has ever won a fourth term in NSW,” he told the ABC.
“You accumulate barnacles.”
However, he conceded factional infighting and a series of ministerial scandals had impacted the Liberal campaign.
He said incidents like ex-Finance Minister Damien Tudehope resignation over his failure to disclose shareholdings in Transurban had prevented the party from getting its message out to voters.
“A couple of weeks ago we saw a couple of ministers have two leave the portfolios, there are just a series of things that chewed up time,” he told the ABC.
“It was a distraction, we were defending ourselves rather than being on the attack on prosecuting a case to get re-elected.”
Federal Liberal MP Angus Taylor believes the NSW Liberal party was blamed for the cost of living woes being experienced by people.
“People are looking for who to blame,” he told the ABC, adding it was “tough for incumbent governments”.
Labor deputy leader Prue Car told the ABC the party had “struck a chord with the people of NSW, talking about the issues that matter to people … do we have enough teachers? Do we have enough nurses?”
“Privatisation is killing people’s cost of living, their household incomes, their household budgets,” she added.
The Londonderry MP said the results showed the party had campaigned on issues that mattered to voters.
“It feels like it’s a really hopeful night for us and that we’re seeing some really great results,” she said.
“A lot of seats that we needed to win. But we don’t take anything for granted and we still have a lot of seats that are close where there is a lot more to count. It’s clear that the people of NSW have voted for change.”
Gina Rinehart spotted handing out meat pies
Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has shocked onlookers by turning up to campaign for the Liberal party and even hand out meat pies.
She was spotted on Sydney’s north shore hand delivering meat pies to Liberal volunteers and voters after she was photographed emerging from a white SUV outside a Ryde school.
With an estimated worth of $37 billion, the mining magnate was reportedly praising Liberal Lane Cove MP Anthony Roberts, who is locked in a battle for his seat with teal independent Victoria Davidson.
One person commented on Twitter: “OK – not much shocks me anymore with #auspol but I’m hearing that Gina Rinehart turned up in a few locations around Lane Cove handing out meat pies to Liberal people in support of Anthony Roberts. They must be very worried. Extraordinary.”
Ms Rinehart and Mr Roberts have a longstanding friendship where she even sent him meat pies when he was stuck in hotel quarantine during the pandemic.