The first person officially nominated to replace Gladys Berejiklian as New South Wales Prime Minister has risen up, saying he has the right ‘vision’.
The first contender to be formally nominated to replace Gladys Berejiklian as New South Wales Prime Minister says he has the right “experience, vision and integrity” to lead the state through a crucial period as it starts over.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes is one of a handful of names – along with Treasurer Dominic Perot – seen as likely to replace Ms Berejiklian, who abruptly resigned Friday in the face of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission investigation.
Mr Stokes’ announcement that he would throw his hat into the ring came after residents left flowers and cards outside Ms Berejiklian’s home and office on Saturday, and the NSW opposition leader admitted he remains an underdog “regardless of the liberal prime minister”.
One of the cards left outside Ms Berejiklian’s Sydney home on Saturday said it was “heartbreaking”.
“It was very sad to watch you resign as our Prime Minister. You have been the most wonderful Prime Minister of our state and for that I would like to thank you.”
The New South Wales prime minister has announced she will step down and walk out of Parliament after the state’s corruption watchdog said it would investigate whether she had breached public trust in the context of her secret affair with fellow parliamentarian Daryl Maguire.
The Liberal Party’s caucus is set to meet on Tuesday to vote on her successor, but even as Ms Berejiklian spoke on Friday, speculation prevailed over who would replace her.
Stokes, 46, is seen as one of the top contenders, if that is the underdog for Beirut, 39.
However, on Saturday, Stokes beat Mr. Perrottet hard, declaring he had the determination and experience to fill the void left by Ms. Berejiklian.
“I have the right balance of experience, vision and integrity needed during this critical period in our history, as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic,” he said.
I have asked my colleagues for their support, and I am grateful to the many colleagues who encouraged me to run for leader.
“I am delighted to have the support of my family in making this decision and will continue to speak with my colleagues over the weekend.”
Mr. Beirut, on Saturday afternoon, had not yet confirmed his candidacy.
Transportation Secretary Andrew Constance, Tourism Minister Stewart Ayres and Environment Secretary Matt Keane have also been promoted as leadership candidates, although they may be strangers to Mr Beirut and Stokes.
Ms Berejiklian still faces an ICAC investigation, but her departure from state policy drew a sympathetic response from many Australians on Saturday.
Among the health care workers was famous personal trainer Michelle Bridges.
I am honestly not a political person. I listen occasionally, but most of the time they make me shine,” she posted on Instagram.
“I am actually so devastated to see this lady go.”
Meanwhile, NSW Labor leader Chris Maines insisted on Saturday that Ms Berejiklian’s departure would not alter his party’s approach to politics, stressing it remained a ‘huge demand’ for Labor to end 12 years in the wild in the 2023 election.
“No matter who the Liberal Prime Minister is, we’re going way back a long time ago,” Maines told reporters in Sydney.
Another NSW party was in power in 2011 and has struggled for a decade to gain traction against the state coalition.
Maines on Friday issued a conservative statement, rather than attacking Ms Berejiklian, praising her service to the state of New South Wales, especially during the past 15 weeks of the Delta outbreak in Sydney.
Maines said Saturday that he has no idea who the Liberal Party will dissolve, but that it must be done urgently for the sake of the state.
“It creates a sense of urgency,” he said.
“It is a funny thing for the leader of the opposition to say but … the state requires leadership. There are important decisions to be made and messages to be communicated to millions of people.”