Barilaro’s position as deputy premier now ‘untenable’
NSW Police Minister David Elliott has described Nationals leader John Barilaro's threats to effectively move to the crossbenches over a dispute about protecting koala habitats as "the greatest act of political bastardry in quite some time" - and said his position was now untenable.
"The disloyalty that we've seen out of the deputy premier makes his position untenable and I also believe that what we've seen out of Gladys Berejiklian today is that 'don't bring a knife to a gunfight'.
"Those that want to take her on, need to be able to follow through. Don't make threats that you can't follow through."
Speaking at a press conference in Dubbo, Mr Elliott said it was "disgusting" that the government had been forced deflect attention to something that "wasn't even on the political radar".
This morning Premier Gladys Berejiklian "stared down" Deputy Premier John Barilaro after he effectively threatened to blow up the NSW Liberal-Nationals coalition over planning legislation designed to protect koala habitats.
After a 25-minute meeting with the premier this morning, Nationals leader Mr Barilaro agreed to remain in coalition until the election.
A Liberal source said Mr Barilaro also agreed his MPs would support all government positions.
"He walked the government to the brink and he's got nothing out of it," a Liberal source said.
"The premier stared him down. She showed him that she would no longer tolerate his bullying behaviour."
However, Nationals sources said MPs had not backed down on their opposition to the koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP),
"There is no backdown on the SEPP. There is no agreement," a Nationals source said.
"It is going to Cabinet."
Mr Barilaro and the premier met for 25 minutes this morning, with the Nationals leader making several requests, a government source said. But the premier did not agree to them.
She asked him to ensure support for the coalition until the election, to which he agreed, a government source familiar with the meeting said.
The source said it was a "complete capitulation" by Mr Barilaro.
Negotiations on koalas will, however, continue.
Mr Barilaro returned to the Nationals party room meeting after speaking with Ms Berejiklian before telling members he would not be revealing the details of their discussions.
It is understood the decision to keep the details of the meeting under wraps followed the leaking out of discussions between himself and the premier, a Nationals source said.
Another Liberal source said Mr Barilaro had told MPs that there had been concessions on both sides.
"She gave no concessions," the source said.
"She asked him - are you in Coalition or not in Coalition?
"Are you going to provide me with the stability to manage a global pandemic or put your ego first for your own ends? There were no concessions from the premier."
The meeting follows a text exchange between Mr Barilaro and the premier last night, whereby Ms Berejiklian asked if he wished to remain in coalition while informing him that she would not be changing her stance.
The standoff had threatened to collapse the NSW Government with the premier prepared to sack seven Nationals Ministers, including her deputy.
In a stunning ultimatum in response to the National Party's meltdown over new koala protection rules, Ms Berejiklian on Thursday night gave a deadline of 9am Friday for the renegade country MPs to fall into line or be fired from the frontbench.
Mr Barilaro office said he would not be commenting on the text exchange.
Earlier today, Mr Barilaro said he would wait until the 8am party room meeting with his colleagues to decide how they would respond.
"I will trust the party room to make a decision that I will take to the premier. I don't know what it looks like and I'm prepared to accept that what we're doing is the right thing for regional communities," he told 2GB this morning.
He denied National Party MPs would sit on the crossbench, saying this had been "misinterpreted" and he was "not here to bring down the government."
"What we said yesterday is that no one would go physically to the crossbench but what was turned on us is that because we said we won't vote on government bills until this is resolved … that effectively the whole party was going to the crossbench.
"We're not going to the crossbench, we're not sitting on the crossbench."
Originally published as Koala-gate stand off: Nat MPs won't back down