Premier seals support of three key Independents

26th March 2019

Source: Australian Financial Review | By: Aaron Patrick | Posted: March 26, 2019


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian secured the support of three independent MPs, giving her re-elected Coalition government a comfortable parliamentary buffer against a demoralised Labor opposition.

With the latest counting  giving the Coalition 48 seats in the 93-seat Parliament, Ms Berejiklian will be able to govern with a four-seat majority after appointing a Coalition speaker."

I am hoping 48 will be my lucky number," she said after informing Governor David Hurley on Tuesday morning she had enough support in the Legislative Assembly to form government.

NSW has fixed four-year terms and early elections can only be held under special circumstances. Ms Berejiklian said the three independents, Greg Piper, Alex Greenwich and Joe McGirr, assured her at a Monday meeting they would vote for the government's budgets and support it in any confidence votes.

Before Saturday's election the independents asked Ms Berejiklian to create a "transition authority" to oversee government assistance for the state's coal-mining regions as coal power is replaced by renewable energy.

"We ask you to commit to a ten-year adjustment strategy for coal mining communities backed by financial resources to affected regions," they wrote.

They also asked for changes to the operation of parliament to give individual MPs more influence relative to political parties.

Handshake agreement

Ms Berejiklian said the MPs had raised the same requests in their Monday meeting. "I was open to their suggestions," she said. "There were no surprises on either side."

There is no written agreement, but Ms Berejiklian has promised that her staff will provide the three MPs with a response to their requests this week, Mr Greenwich said. Detailed action will have to wait for the appointment of ministers.

"It is very much a good-faith agreement," Mr Greenwich said. "I would expect by the end of the week we could have a clearer understanding from the premier about the way we are getting progress."

Ms Berejiklian and Deputy Premer John Barilaro are going through the process of selecting the cabinet, which the premier said would be sworn in early next week, suggesting the cabinet may be announced over the weekend.

The last undecided seat, East Hills in Sydney's west, was called by the ABC for the Liberal Party candidate Wendy Lindsay, who was leading by 0.6 per cent after 82 per cent of the votes were counted, a swing of 0.2 per cent to the government.

Appointing a Coalition speaker will make the sensitive task of finding jobs for 47 other Coalition MPs slightly easier. The Labor Party has pushed its leader to step aside until after the federal election, when it plans to hold a vote of members for his job.

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