Gladys for PM
Many commentators saw Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to resign from the premiership of NSW and her state seat of Willoughby as a giant dummy spit. It now seems that there may have been method in her political madness.
Of course, Ms Berejiklian’s future is in the hands of ICAC, but there will be enormous pressure on that organisation to make an early finding once the week of public hearings is completed. Depending on those hearings, there will also be pressure for her to be exonerated if it transpires that she has not been involved in maladministration.
Already, there are calls for her to nominate for the seat of Warringah, which is currently held by independent Zali Stegall after she won the seat from Tony Abbott at the last election.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, was asked about the possibility of the former premier entering federal parliament, on Sunrise on Tuesday. He said Ms Berejiklian has a lot more to contribute to Australian politics.
“We have a proper selection process in our party and there are many different ways that she could (contribute). They don’t necessarily need to be in the parliament.
“I respect, you know, Gladys taking the time in what has been a very difficult, very difficult period for her.
“She has tremendous support both in the Liberal Party and, I think, right across NSW.”
On Tuesday morning, the NSW transport minister and state member for Bega, Andrew Constance, announced that he was going to resign from parliament at the end of the year in order to contest the federal seat of Gilmour. He was asked about Gladys Berejiklian’s future prospects and he had no hesitation in endorsing her as a prospective future prime minister.
So, is it possible that Gladys Berejiklian could contest the seat of Warringah at the next election and what are her chances of winning it?
At the moment, it is not clear whether ICAC has evidence that the former premier did not comply with the legal processes for the approval of grants. If she did not, then she is toast.
If she did, then it is unlikely that ICAC can make a finding against her that identifies anything more than a technical breach of what ICAC describes as ‘public conduct’. This would not preclude her standing for election and, if anything, is likely to increase her sympathy vote.
Gladys Berejiklian would have a good chance of winning Warringah. Her views are in keeping with voters in that electorate: progressive on climate change, strong on infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion and she is a woman. Moreover, Warringah likes to produce prospective prime ministers.
It will be very difficult for the independents to attack her, which is their usual modus operandi for winning seats.
It would be very useful for Scott Morrison to have her contest Warringah. He needs all the NSW seats he can get as he fights to hold his very thin majority.
At the moment, all he can do is keep his fingers crossed.