'Clean up the bearpit', say Independents

25th March 2019

Source: Daily Telegraph | By: Anna Caldwell | Posted: March 25, 2019

THE at-times vicious NSW parliament "bear pit" is headed for extinction, with a victorious Gladys Berejiklian vowing to clean up the chamber and apply higher standards to the state's politicians.

The move is the first concession from the Premier to the three crossbench MPs that Ms Berejiklian will court in a bid to insulate her government in the event it faces future by-elections.

"This is a fresh parliament, and a fresh government, which lends itself to improving the way in which we conduct ourselves," Ms Berejiklian told The Daily Telegraph.

The Premier was confident the Liberal-National Coalition would have the numbers to govern in its own right having likely lost just four seats in Saturday's historic victory.

Labor leader Michael Daley is under intense pressure from colleagues over his disastrous campaign, which led to the party picking up just two seats.



PARLIAMENT will be cleaned up with higher standards expected of politicians under sweeping reforms to NSW's notorious bear pit set to be the first offering from Premier Gladys Berejiklian to the crossbench.

"This is a fresh parliament, and a fresh government which lends itself to improving the way in which we conduct ourselves," Ms Berejiklian told The Daily Telegraph.

The re-elected Premier was yesterday confident the Liberal National Coalition would have the numbers to govern in its own right, but will still move to strengthen her relationship with the key NSW independents in a move that will insulate her from byelections.

The Coalition had 46 seats and needed 47 to govern in its own right.

The government was last night expecting to secure Dubbo and East Hills to take their final count to 48.

Newly empowered, the Premier also indicated she would shake of the influence of factional heavyweights, particularly when selecting her cabinet this week.

"I've earned the right to surround myself with the best people and pick the best team," she said.

The Premier said that being instilled with a mandate of the people would make her "more bold and courageous" as a leader, while remaining in touch with community sentiment.

Ms Berejiklian said the parliament had not had significant reform in "a long time", which she said could include stricter rules for how it was run.

The Premier believes personally that many people can be disappointed when they see what happens in parliament, particularly its high levels of antagonism.

The conduct of the parliament came under heavy scrutiny last October when Corrections Minister David Elliott raised allegations about then-Labor leader Luke Foley. Mr Foley then retaliated with a bizarre series of threats at a number of government ministers in which he pointed his fingers at them across the chamber, saying he would talk about "you and you and you".

The three independents on the crossbench - Greg Piper, Alex Greenwich and Joe McGirr - wrote to both leaders a month ago calling for parliamentary reform.

Ms Berejiklian said she wanted the parliament to be more productive "and spend more time dealing with the issues the community cares about and not just what politicians care about." This would also involve reforming the committee process and possibly the timing of questions and answers.

It's understood the Premier will also consider moving question time earlier in the day and the cross bench has also asked her to consider changing the amount of time allowed for Dorothy Dixer questions.

She said she would prioritise trying to reconnect with voters feeling disconnected from the political process.

She also said water management would be a top priority for her in western NSW after saying the loss of huge Nationals seats like Barwon and Murray was a "cry for help" from those people.

Asked if she would commit to serving her four-year term, Ms Berejiklian said "that's certainly my intention": "You can't predict what will happen in the future, but so long as I have the support of the community and my colleagues I will always serve." She said that following her win on Saturday night, she felt it was important to listen to "the silent majority". "Sometimes the loud minority are blurring them out," she said.

With 73 per cent of the vote counted, The Liberal Nationals had 42.2 per cent of the primary vote, well ahead of Labor on 33 per cent.

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