NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian insists the NSW cabinet is able to work together despite last week’s blow-up when Nationals leader John Barilaro threatened to march his party colleagues to the cross bench over a dispute about koala protection policy.
With parliament due to sit on Tuesday Ms Berejiklian still isn’t saying if the deputy premier should retain his party’s leadership – insisting the matter is one for the Nationals.
“We’re a strong, stable government and that’s what we will continue to do,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Monday.
“What assurance I have is that we will have a coalition between now and the election and that all ministers will support government legislation.”
Ms Berejiklian had previously confirmed everything was ready for her to attend Government House and swear in a new ministry if Mr Barilaro did not back down and declare support for her government.
NSW Customer Services Minister Victor Dominello also stuck to the party line and wouldn’t be drawn on his relationship with Mr Barilaro after the rift.
“I will work with whoever the National Party gives us as their leader and at the moment it’s the deputy premier,” he told reporters.
NSW Nationals MP Melinda Pavey also surfaced on Monday to back Mr Barilaro after last week’s koala debacle laid bare cracks in the coalition.
The water minister tried to calm the waters but acknowledged that Mr Barilaro is under pressure.
“John Barilaro has been a great leader,” she told Sydney’s 2GB radio.
Her attempts to ease tensions come ahead of parliament sitting on Tuesday with Ms Pavey saying she’s confident the coalition can sort out its issues.
“Yes, we had a hiccup. I know he ruffles feathers but he ruffles feathers for good.”
NSW Police Minister and Liberal MP David Elliott has been the most outspoken critic of Mr Barilaro, calling his public ultimatum to the premier “the greatest act of political bastardry” in quite some time and saying Mr Barilaro’s leadership was “untenable”.
Mr Elliot on Monday did not repeat calls for Mr Barilaro to quit the leadership but did say there were other talented National MPs who were loyal to their electorates and the coalition government.
“And they don’t threaten to throw their boss under the bus just because they don’t get their own way,” he told 2GB.
He said Mr Barilaro did not walk away a winner from the stoush just because he got a promise to have the matter discussed in cabinet.
The Nationals are concerned changes to the Koala Habitat Protection State Environmental Planning Policy limits land use on farms and the ability to rezone areas for development as more trees are classed as koala habitat.
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay said Mr Barilaro’s position was “completely untenable” and flagged she would move a vote of no confidence in the government when parliament resumes.