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Nationals claim ‘win’ after dummy spit

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro has claimed a win for his party after a dispute about a controversial policy nearly imploded the NSW government.The Nationals had effectively threatened to move to the crossbench over a bill related to koala conservation, when Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the party to fall into line or resign…

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro has claimed a win for his party after a dispute about a controversial policy nearly imploded the NSW government.

The Nationals had effectively threatened to move to the crossbench over a bill related to koala conservation, when Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the party to fall into line or resign by 9am on Friday.

Mr Barilaro met with Ms Berejiklian on Friday morning and did not tender any resignations, and it’s understood no concessions were made to the Nationals to keep them on board.

But the Nationals leader told 2GB’s Ray Hadley on Friday afternoon: “We got the win there today.”

He claims Friday was the first day he was assured the party’s complaints about the legislation — designed to protect koala habitats — would be discussed at an upcoming cabinet meeting.

“The beauty here for us is it’s coming to cabinet, and it’s the first time we’ve been assured of that,” he said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday the “issue would be considered by cabinet in due course”.

A senior source within the Nationals told NCA NewsWire on Friday it was a win for the party because it marked the first time the Premier had promised it would go to cabinet as soon as possible — as opposed to the item appearing on the agenda and being bumped off.

“The Premier has agreed it’s an urgent cabinet agenda item, and we’ve made the Liberal MPs aware of (the potential impacts of the legislation),” they said.

There has been no confirmation as to what meeting the matter will be discussed at, but it’s understood the Nationals will push to make it the number one priority.

The outcome of Friday morning’s meeting between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro was expressed in a frosty three-line statement on Friday morning.

“Following a meeting this morning between the Premier and Deputy Premier, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Coalition remains in place,” the statement read.

“This includes a commitment to supporting Cabinet conventions and processes.

“The matter will be dealt with at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.”

Mr Barilaro said while it was “never our goal to take down the government”, the Nationals felt they needed to go hard on the issue to ensure a win after suffering disasters over greyhounds and local government merges.

“If we don’t get this stuff right, we get punished and our communities get hurt,” he said.

IT’S NOT OVER: CHAOS BEHIND THE SCENES

Hostility remained between the NSW Liberals and Nationals Friday afternoon after the Coalition narrowly avoided blowing up the government.

The government released a statement lunchtime Friday saying the Coalition remained in place but fell short of confirming a warm working relationship between the two parties.

Leaks are flooding out of parliament, with Liberal sources backgrounding journalists to say Deputy Premier John Barilaro walked away with nothing, and the Nationals suggesting their leader had “won”.

Neither leader has provided their own comment as to what transpired this morning, apart from a statement that failed to confirm where the pair stood in terms of continuing to work together personally.

The government was thrown into chaos on Thursday when the Nationals effectively threatened to move to the crossbench over a contentious policy related to koala conservation.

Both Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Nationals leader John Barilaro had been silent since Thursday night, when the Premier told her deputy he could retract his threat or resign at 9am on Friday.

A long-awaited joint statement from Ms Berejiklian and Mr Barilaro released late Friday morning said: “Following a meeting this morning between the Premier and Deputy Premier, the NSW Liberal and Nationals Coalition remains in place.

“This includes a commitment to supporting Cabinet conventions and processes.

“The matter will be dealt with at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.”

NCA NewsWire understands the Nationals are still in the process of pushing for some concessions to be made, and a source close to the party has claimed “nothing has been finalised yet”.

Labor Leader Jodi McKay has said she will call for a vote of no confidence in the NSW government on Tuesday, and has called for Nationals leader John Barilaro to resign.

She told reporters neither party should feel proud of how things had played out.

“This is not a victory for Gladys Berejiklian because she should have dealt with this issue earlier,” she said.

A source within NSW parliament told NCA NewsWire there were whispers of a leadership spill among the Nationals.

However, Mr Barilaro is understood to be pushing Friday’s meeting as a “win” for the Nationals, as the party’s proposed amendments will be discussed at an upcoming cabinet meeting.

GLADYS VICTORIOUS OVER REBEL MPS

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has emerged victorious after Deputy Premier John Barilaro effectively threatened to take his party to the crossbench over controversial planning legislation.

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro threatened his party would not support government legislation, boycott joint party room meetings and move to the crossbench over amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which were designed to protect koala habitats.

Under the amendments, land owners would be responsible for the koalas on their land, which could impact how they develop it, and the Nationals have reportedly been bombarded with calls from residents who are against it.

Mr Barilaro withdrew his threats on Friday morning and committed to the Coalition until the election, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Government sources reportedly claimed the Deputy Premier tried to make several demands, including to discuss the legislation at the next cabinet meeting on September 21, but none were accepted.

A source within the Nationals told NCA NewsWire nothing had been “finalised” between the two parties and it was “still inconclusive what will happen”.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not take kindly to the threats made on Thursday, and had issued a press release that evening calling for the party members to resign from her ministry by 9am on Friday or fall into line.

Nationals members held an emergency meeting on Friday morning, just one hour before the deadline for them to resign.

About 13 members are believed to have been in the meeting, with some attending over Zoom, and NCA NewsWire understands it was still underway at 9.30am, before Mr Barilaro met with the Premier.

“I have already made clear to the Deputy Premier that his policy concerns are listed for discussion at an upcoming cabinet meeting and will be considered by the joint party room,” a statement from MNs Berejiklian on Thursday evening read.

“It is long established convention that members of cabinet must support government legislation. It is not possible to be the deputy premier or a Minister of the Crown and sit on the crossbench.”

She said she would go to Government House on Friday and swear in a new ministry “if required”.

“SHE’S CALLED YOUR BLUFF AND YOU’VE BLINKED”

Mr Barilaro appeared to walk back his strong comments before the meeting on Friday morning, as he was blasted by 2GB host Ben Fordham.

“It sounds like she’s called your bluff and you’ve blinked,” Mr Fordham said.

“Oh really? Is that how you read it, Ben?” Mr Barilaro responded.

“Why up the ante to that level where the whole government is now in crisis and you are facing the sack at 9am? Why take it to that point?” Fordham asked.

Mr Barilaro said his MP’s did not intend to go sit on the crossbench.

“Didn’t you say they (National MPs) would go and sit on the crossbench?” Fordham asked.

Mr Barilaro fired back: “No, what we said yesterday was that no one would physically go to the crossbench.”

He said what they said was turned around and “effectively the whole party has gone to the crossbench”.

Mr Barilaro added he was not trying to bring down the Government.

“I’m not here to destroy the Coalition. We’ve been a bloody good government and it’s not the Liberals that have been a good government, ‘we’ have been a good government.”

“It’s not just about koala protection laws, it’s about protecting the regions,” Mr Barilaro said.

“What do we stand for? Did we not learn from greyhounds, did we not learn from local government mergers in regional communities?”

Mr Barilaro fired up at Mr Fordham when probed about sacrificing the Government over a policy that had “been discussed in cabinet and National MPs had a say on”, according to Fordham.

“That’s incorrect. The facts are clear it has never gone to cabinet. That’s why we want it in cabinet,” Mr Barilaro said.

“It didn’t have to go to cabinet … a planning instrument or blunt tool was used by Minister (Rob) Stokes to change the koala protection bill and he assured us we would work through the guidelines.

“And we came to a consensus about what those guidelines would look like.”

Mr Barilaro claimed a “mistrust” has been spread by the Liberals, arguing they had actually been working constructively.

“There was a consultation period we entered into and we were given assurance that our issues would be managed,” he said.

“We’ve been working on this for six months to no avail.”

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