Deputy Premier John Barilaro faces cancer scare

DEPUTY Premier John Barilaro has revealed how colleagues tried to strike against him with leadership talks as he faces a cancer scare.

News Corp Australia can reveal Mr Barilaro was due to face surgery today after a biopsy detected abnormalities in a lump in his throat, but the operation was cancelled late last night because crucial nerves in the area made it too high risk.

The Deputy Premier has been privately undergoing tests for four months, and revealed that when he broke the news to his Nationals colleagues some immediately began contemplating a leadership replacement.

Deputy Premier of NSW John Barilaro has revealed he is facing a health scare. Picture: Kym Smith
Deputy Premier of NSW John Barilaro has revealed he is facing a health scare. Picture: Kym Smith

Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Nationals leader Mr Barilaro says that while you do build real friendships in politics "it can be a lonely place".

"You also have those that look for weakness and strike. When word got out last week I was dealing with this issue, some of my own colleagues, had quickly diagnosed me with cancer (none of them health professionals), and thought it was the right time to speak about a new leader.

"Word quickly got back to me and maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but you realise political friendships can be fickle. Early on so many told me 'that's politics'.

"Well, it shouldn't be."

It's understood one of the rumours within the Nationals was that the Queanbeyan MP had non-hodgkin lymphoma. This lie even made its way to former Nationals federal leader Barnaby Joyce.

 

Mr Barilaro has revealed his commitment to his work has come at the cost of his health. Picture: Kym Smith
Mr Barilaro has revealed his commitment to his work has come at the cost of his health. Picture: Kym Smith

Mr Barilaro bravely writes today of the "emotional roller coaster" his cancer scare was causing him, and says it has given him a new understanding of what it is like for voters to navigate the health system.

Mr Barilaro's remarks about his colleagues come as both sides of politics have promised to clean up and reset the parliament after Labor leader Luke Foley resigned over allegations he put his hand down a reporter's underpants. Mr Foley denies the claims.

Parliament resumes today for the first time since the crisis.

Mr Barilaro's specialists will now try non-invasive procedures on the lump before making a final decision on surgery at a later date.

Mr Barilaro said politics had worked him to the ground, and he was now forced to take the next parliamentary sitting block off because of his surgery.

He said he loved his job dearly, but at times ran himself into the ground.

"I can't say no. I don't want to let them down. I chose to do this and made a commitment. Looking back over the past, especially two years, my diary clearly shows the mileage I've done.

"I have loved every minute and the privilege and commitment to serve has never been lost on me.

"Unfortunately like so many others it can often come at the expense of my family, but right now it has come at the expense of my health."

He said that even he found navigating the health system "daunting and tiring", "especially at a time when you are emotional and scared".

"Being told to go and see a haematologist at a Cancer Centre scares the socks off you."