John Barilaro has resigned as Deputy Premier of NSW just three days after Gladys Berejiklian stepped down due to a corruption investigation by ICAC.
Mr Barilaro released a statement early on Monday morning thanking constituents for their support, describing his role as the leader of the National party as ‘the honour and privilege of a lifetime’.
He said it felt right to step down alongside Ms Berejiklian to give NSW a fresh start, allowing two new leaders to take the reins together as the state finally exits a grueling 15-week Covid lockdown.
‘As we emerge from lockdown, we must embrace this time as a new beginning for our state, and welcome the opportunity it presents for a refresh,’ he said.
‘The next Premier has big shoes to fill, but I wish them well and the best of luck, I will be cheering from the sidelines and I am excited for what is ahead under their stewardship.’
John Barilaro has resigned as Deputy Premier of NSW just three days after Gladys Berejiklian stepped down due to a corruption investigation by ICAC
He said it felt right to step down alongside Ms Berejiklian (pictured together) to give NSW a fresh start, allowing two new leaders to take the reins together as the state finally exits a grueling 15-week Covid lockdown
That role will likely be filled by Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, having all but tied up the Liberal leadership after all the thrills and spill of the past 48 sleepless hours.
The 39-year-old, who holds the seat of Epping in Sydney’s north, doesn’t quite have the top job shored up just yet, but it appears overwhelmingly likely he has the numbers after two days of political jostling.
Despite Mr Barilaro’s well wishes, his decision to step down will create some headaches for the incoming Premier, who will now have to call three by-elections with an already slim majority in Parliament.
Mr Barilaro worked closely with Premier Berejiklian in designing the roadmap out of lockdown and was an original member of the Covid crisis committee.
He described himself as ‘the architect of the roadmap out of lockdown’ and hopes his legacy will be bringing hope and certainty to the people of NSW and the rest of the nation.
‘People are sometimes quick to write off the National Party, but it’s the Nats in Government who are, and always will be, the praetorian guard of common sense,’ he said.
Mr Barilaro worked closely alongside Premier Berejiklian in designing the roadmap out of lockdown and was an original member of the Covid crisis committee
A tearful Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday) resigned as NSW premier and slammed the state’s corruption watchdog for investigating her
Mr Barilaro looked back fondly on his time in state politics, noting it was a tumultuous two years as NSW endured drought, fire, floods and a global pandemic.
‘It was a privilege to work with our communities to endure and recover from those challenges,’ he said.
‘I hope those communities could see my genuine and tireless effort to be there for them, especially as the Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery, a role I will never forget. I shared hugs, shed tears and brought hope for many.’
The 49-year-old said his focus has always been on highlighting regional communities and bring a sense of pride into these towns.
Mr Barilaro thanked his family for their sacrifices throughout his time in politics (pictured with wife Deanna and daughter Sofia)
Mr Barilaro will front the media at 9.30am on Monday to discuss his decision.
He will call a Party Room meeting on Wednesday to formally resign and call for a ballot for a new leader of the Nationals party.
Immediately afterwards, he will call a by-election for his seat of Monaro.
Mr Perrottet’s likely appointment, making him the youngest NSW premier in history, comes after Gladys Berejiklian was forced to stand down after becoming the subject of a corruption probe.
A staunch conservative, Mr Perrottet threw his hat in the ring after some wild internal jostling with the party’s powerful moderate faction.
The father-of-six, who is Catholic, had originally planned to have Energy and Environment minister – and long-time friend – Matt Kean serve as his deputy.
Dominic Perrottet is a devout Catholic and father-of-six (pictured with his family) who has staunch conservative views
But concerns were raised by moderate MP Lee Evans and others that the Member for Hornsby in Northern Sydney would not play well in the Harbour City’s working class west – where the party desperately needs votes to hold their grip on power.
After some toing and froing it was agreed that Stuart Ayers, the Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney who holds the seat of Penrith, would be his running mate as deputy leader of the Liberal Party.
Mr Kean, his long-time friend, is set to be given the job of treasurer in a peace-offering after agreeing to ‘fall on his sword’ and abandon his ambitions of the deputy job, The Daily Telegraph reported.
David Elliot, who heads up the party’s centre-right faction, said Mr Kean has ‘displayed the most selfless act in politics in recent times’.
Despite the controversy surrounding her departure, Mr Perrottet heaped praise on embattled former state leader Ms Berejiklian on Sunday before formally declaring himself a candidate for Tuesday’s Liberal Party Ballot which will decide the next state leader.
Ms Berejiklian’s bombshell resignation was announced at 1pm on Friday, immediately following the new the Independent Commission in Corruption had launched a probe the dealings she had with her disgraced ex-boyfriend Daryl Maguire MP.
Huddled with her closest allies and friends, the NSW premier almost decided to defiantly weather the storm before she ran out of options.
Then she stood up in front of TV cameras and, barely holding it together, announced she was stepping down and quitting parliament.
‘Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do,’ she said.
The ICAC will look into whether she breached public trust by not reporting suspicion of corrupt conduct of former boyfriend Daryl Maguire.
There will be consideration into what role, if any, she played in two government grants handed out in Mr Maguire’s electorate.
In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in her former lover’s electorate, documents show.
But the ex-premier continues to insist she’s done nothing wrong.
The public inquiry on the matter will be held for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
Reaction to the premier’s shock resignation
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: ‘Gladys is a dear friend of mine. We’ve known each other for a long time. She has displayed heroic qualities, heroic qualities as the premier of NSW.’
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews: ‘I find her to be a person of integrity, a person that works hard for her state and has been a very important partner with us.’
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk: ‘I wish Gladys Berejiklian the best for the future. Contrary to some public commentary, I have always respected Gladys and found her to be good company’.
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro: ‘I have served as the Deputy Premier to Gladys Berejiklian for almost five years and in that time she has led this State through some of its darkest days. Everyone has the right to defend their name and I wish Gladys all the best for her future.’
Former federal treasurer and NSW MP Joe Hockey: ‘She has been the best political leader Australia has seen in years taking the state through drought, bushfires and COVID. ICAC again pulls down a fine premier for something other than corruption.’
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns: ‘For all our disagreements I have never doubted Gladys’ dedication to NSW, or her work in the service of it. I thank her for her service.’;
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet: ‘I want to again pay tribute to one of the most outstanding leaders our state has ever had. Gladys is both a colleague and a friend and her decision is a loss to public life in NSW.’