The intervention of the respected party leader was significant in persuading the party’s centre-right faction, led by Police Minister David Elliott, to shift their support to Mr. Perrottet.
Elliott had previously ruled out supporting Perrottet amid an inter-factional battle taking place northwest of town, but told his colleagues that his respect for Mr. Howard had changed his thinking.
While Mr Perrottet was still lobbying for support, Planning Secretary Rob Stokes was working The first minister officially nominated To replace Ms. Berejiklian at the state’s highest office on Saturday afternoon.
Stokes, who missed replacing Mike Bird in 2017 while on a foreign trip, said he has the right balance of experience, vision and integrity to lead NSW as prime minister.
“The NSW coalition is the best team to ensure our recovery is successful, and I believe I am the best person to lead the government in the crucial upcoming elections,” he said.
“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.”
Jobs Secretary Stuart Ayres has also been considering running for the job, while Transportation Secretary Andrew Constance has remained silent on whether he will run. The Bega MP is also considering withdrawing from state policy in the coming weeks and running for the Gilmore federal seat.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said he has been encouraged by colleagues to run for leadership, and will reveal his intentions on Sunday.
“Our government’s number one priority has been and will continue to be the health, wellbeing, safety and livelihood of our communities, as we move toward carefully reopening our state,” he said.
A senior liberal source said there had long been speculation that a deal was struck between Mr Perotette and Environment Minister Matt Keane in 2017 when Ms Berejiklian became prime minister.
It was widely believed that the deal would see Mr. Keane, the leader of the moderates, lend support from his faction to Mr. Perrottet to become prime minister, if he was in turn appointed as the party’s deputy.
The source said that it is likely that Beirut will secure the top position, with Kane being his deputy and possibly the treasurer.
The Independent Anti-Corruption Commission confirmed on Friday that Ms Berejiklian was the focus of its latest investigation, prompting her to immediately announce her resignation as prime minister.
It is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian has allowed or encouraged corrupt behavior by her ex-boyfriend, longtime ex-boyfriend, former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
Amid the investigation, the government has awarded $5.5 million to Australia’s Clay Target Association and $30 million to the Riverina Conservatorium, both at Maguire’s former Wagga Wagga residence.
Opposition Leader Chris Maines said he wasn’t worried about who the Liberals installed as the state’s new prime minister, and promised to work with them through the pandemic.
He added that the prospect of winning the next state election remained a “huge task” for Labour.
“We’re back from a long way back. That won’t change. I honestly think it would be a huge demand for NSW Labor, no matter who the Liberal Prime Minister is,” he said.
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