Source: Sydney Morning Herald | By: Alexandra Smith | Posted: March 24, 2019
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she will not take the state's three independent MPs for granted as she prepares to govern with a slim majority after claiming victory on Saturday night.
The Coalition was returned to power for a historic third term after Labor leader Michael Daley's disastrous final campaign week, which saw the party's vote collapse in Sydney and regional seats.
The Liberals face losing just one seat in Sydney but the Nationals were punished by voters in the bush, losing Barwon and Murray to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers. Lismore remained too close to call and the Nationals failed to pick up Ballina from the Greens.
Ms Berejiklian said she had heard the message from western NSW as a "cry for help".
“The people of western NSW are doing it tough and that was their way of letting us know," she said.
“The drought is having a devastating impact … and I hear what they’ve said loudly and clearly.”
Ms Berejiklian also became the first elected female Premier in NSW, and while not wanting to focus too much on the achievement, she said she hoped she was an inspiration for all young people.
"I think women are always underestimated," Ms Berejiklian said, also repeating her victory speech line that she was proud "someone with a long surname, and a woman can be Premier in NSW".
Ms Berejiklian said on Sunday she did not think the Liberals would lose any seats, with Coogee on a knife-edge with postal votes to still be counted. But Labor is confident it will win the seat.
Labor's collapse has been blamed on the Opposition Leader's final campaign week but Mr Daley on Sunday insisted he still had work to do and intended to stay on as leader.
But many of his colleagues had already turned on him in the wake of the result and several said they expected him to be challenged for the job after the federal election.
Ms Berejiklian said she believed the Coalition would win "between 47 and 49 seats", allowing her to continue governing in her own right and continue with the work she had started.
“The most frequent comment I used to get was ‘Keep going Glad, keep going," Ms Berejiklian said.
“Major projects take some time to build. The state is already great, but it’s going to be amazing. I want to thank the community for their patience.”
Ms Berejiklian said she did not want Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr and Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper to be taken for granted because "no one has a crystal ball".
"I want them to have a strong working relationship with my government from day one, not just when I might need them," Ms Berejiklian said.
Nationals leader John Barilaro said he was sad to see his party lose seats and suffer swings against MPs but he noted the Coalition did get over the line.
"Yes, there are losses, yes, it hurts, I hate seeing colleagues lose their jobs, but we are in government and that's the main game," Mr Barilaro said.
The Premier is now expected do a significant reshuffle of her front bench, with as many as five MPs likely to be promoted, including Oatley MP Mark Coure and Parramatta MP Geoff Lee.
Multiculturalism Minister Ray Williams and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton are expected to be dumped, and with two retirements, Ms Berejiklian will have at least five spots to fill.
Mr Barilaro's deputy leader and Water Minister Niall Blair also issued a statement, saying he would not be seeking a leadership role in the party and would resign from cabinet.
He said he will remain on the backbench and expects to leave Parliament once a replacement was found. "I cannot deny that the level of aggression directed towards me around water policy has had a profound impact," Mr Blair's statement said.
The Nationals' Bronwyn Taylor could be promoted while there is speculation Tourism Minister Adam Marshall is expected to lose his cabinet spot.
A senior Liberal source said Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro would be unlikely to appoint a new cabinet for at least a week.
"There will be plenty of lobbying going on but Gladys doesn't have the same restrictions she had when she first took over from Mike [Baird] or the same factional issues," the source said.
"I think someone like Mark Coure is one of those likely to be rewarded for his hard work because he has turned his former Labor seat into a Liberal seat with a healthy margin."
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