How Gladys Berejiklian has fallen. It’s been just five months from her The woman who saved Australia front page of the Australian Financial Review Magazine in May to an ignominious resignation, much of that time spent dealing with a coronavirus crisis that dented her reputation.
What will be left of that remains to be seen — as does the fate of the New South Wales Coalition government.
A state election isn’t due until 2023, but the relationship between the NSW Liberals and Nationals has been troubled (remember John Barilaro’s threat last September to sit on the crossbench?). There’s also been internal runctions in the parliamentary ranks of both parties.
Tension has steadily mounted between light green ministers such as Matt Kean and more conservative members of the government. The increasing number of “woke Nationals” has also caused concern among party loyalists worried by the rise of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
While NSW Labor scarcely looks like an alternative government, the Coalition appears divided — and vulnerable.
When Berejiklian’s relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire and the threat of an ICAC investigation were revealed 12 months ago, Corrine Barraclough said in these pages Sorry Gladys, time to go.
She was right. A change of leadership would have been far easier to manage then.
At the time of writing no potential leadership successors have come forward, although Treasurer Dominic Perrottet or Planning Minister Rob Stokes are the obvious favourites.
And whoever gets the job it’s for once it’s not a cliche to say they will inherit a poisoned chalice.
As Sky News Australia’s Laura Jayes Tweeted earlier this afternoon, “This is the resignation of a Premier in a pandemic. NSW will feel this keenly. People not usually engaged in politics — are now, and they’re shocked.”
When Berejiklian was re-elected in 2021 she became the first woman premier of NSW to win re-election and the Liberals won their first three terms in government since 1971.
Today, a fourth term appears elusive. Even making it to 2023 may be an uphill fight.
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