NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been told he is not fit to lead after Labor launched a vote of no confidence against him in Parliament.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay this afternoon told Parliament the motion was sparked by the stoush over koala protection policy that unfolded last week.
Ms McKay told Question Time the NSW Government would remain unstable with Mr Barilaro as Deputy Premier.
« It has become clear that so long as John Barilaro remains the Deputy Premier, the people of New South Wales cannot have faith in the stability of this Government at a time when it is so desperately needed, » she said
Mr Barilaro has maintained the support of his Nationals MPs and the Liberal Party after threatening to split with the Coalition over the koala policy last week.
Ms McKay used Question Time to quiz the Nationals leader over whether he planned to remain in his position.
« Will you now do the honourable thing and resign to restore stable Government in New South Wales? » she asked.
Labor MPs grilled their Coalition counterparts on Tuesday afternoon, asking them to reiterate their views on last week’s events.
The Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, told Parliament he stood by the comments he made about Mr Barilaro’s lack of leadership.
Police Minister David Elliott was accused of « having no guts » after he would not repeat his comments about Mr Barilaro’s leadership being « untenable ».
But when Mr Constance was asked to share his views on last week’s events again, he said he would not take back what he said.
« Yes, there has been a dispute which should have been held at the kitchen table but it is on the front lawn, but I will never ever walk away from what I said. »
The NSW Nationals on Tuesday backed Mr Barilaro at the first Coalition party room meeting since his threat to move to the crossbench.
The ABC understands Mr Barilaro acknowledged the Coalition agreement stands but made no mention in the meeting of the koala policy which triggered the crisis last week.
Mr Barilaro and his Nationals colleagues threatened to sit on the crossbench and pull support of Government legislation in protest over a proposed regulation which aims to protect koala habitat.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called their bluff, and said they had to resign from their ministerial positions if they were to sit on the crossbench.
« We never disclose what happens behind those closed doors, that has always been my position, » she said.
« We need to put last week behind us, we need to work hard together and move forward; our state is relying on us. »
Prior to the joint party room, the Nationals held their own meeting where the majority of MPs backed Mr Barilaro’s leadership.
On Tuesday morning, the Premier indicated Liberal MPs would vote against the vote of no confidence.
« I don’t need to give an instruction, it goes without saying that we all support each other, » Ms Berejiklian said.
The reason this showdown between John Barilaro and Gladys Berejiklian was extraordinary has nothing to do with koalas, writes ABC chief elections analyst Antony Green.
The new regulations will be a guideline used by the NSW Government to determine if koalas would be threatened if land was cleared for development.
Mr Barilaro argues it’s a « nail in the coffin for farmers » while the Nature Conservation Council argues it will ensure « koalas don’t become extinct ».
Some National backbenchers are still considering moving to the crossbench if their demands to change the policy aren’t met.
There have been six months of behind-closed-doors negotiations between Mr Barilaro, Ms Berejiklian and Planning Minister Rob Stokes over the controversial policy.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
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