Morrison lauds resigning NSW premier Berejiklian
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian displayed heroic qualities in the job and remains a dear friend.
Scott Morrison has lauded the "heroic" qualities of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian who has resigned after the launch of a corruption investigation into her.
The prime minister paid tribute to Ms Berejiklian on Friday as the pair gave simultaneous news conferences, telling reporters in Canberra:
"Gladys is a dear friend of mine. We've known each other for a long time.
"She has displayed heroic qualities, heroic qualities as the premier of NSW."
Mr Morrison said she had been trusted and respected by the people of NSW:
"We have been working closely together as governments.
"I would expect nothing other than an absolute continuity of the pace and the leadership that we've seen from NSW."
Ms Berejiklian has resigned as state Liberal leader and will leave parliament when a by-election can be held.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether she breached public trust in awarding grants to several community organisations between 2012 and 2018.
It relates to Ms Berejiklian's relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.
Ms Berejiklian read a prepared statement at a 1pm press conference and did not take questions, stating:
"The people of New South Wales need certainty as to who their leader is during these challenging times of the pandemic. I cannot predict how long it will take the ICAC to complete this investigation, let alone deliver a report, in circumstances where I was first called to give evidence at a public hearing nearly 12 months ago.
"Therefore, it pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign the office of Premier. My resignation will take effect as soon as the New South Wales liberal party can elect a new Parliamentary leader.
"In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I will also resign from the New South Wales Parliament once I have consulted the electoral commission on appropriate timing for a by-election given the COVID restrictions. "
Former federal treasurer and NSW MP Joe Hockey says the resignation is an "absolute tragedy", tweeting:
"She has been the best political leader Australia has seen in years taking the state through drought, bushfires and COVID.
"ICAC again pulls down a fine premier for something other than corruption."