HIGH drama in the New South Wales Liberal Party this morning, with a group of rebel MPs banding together to call for a spill motion against Premier Gladys Berejiklian before quickly calling it off.
Tanya Davies, Lou Amato and Matthew Mason-Cox announced on Monday night they would call an “empty chair” spill motion against Ms Berejiklian over her handling of the controversial abortion bill currently before the parliament.
“We have come to the conclusion that the right course of action is not to leave the Parliamentary Liberal Party but to hold the Premier to account for presiding over this shameful process,” they said in the joint statement.
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“It is only with new leadership that we can again move forward as a united team delivering for the people of NSW.”
But the plan didn’t last long, with the trio releasing another statement just before 8am on Tuesday, confirming they would withdraw the motion after it became clear they would not have enough to support from the rest of the party.
“Since releasing our statement last night, we have received confirmation that further concessions will be forthcoming in relation to the amendments to the abortion bill,” they said.
“On this basis, I have called the premier this morning and advised her that we will withdraw the spill motion to continue negotiations prior to the debate in the upper house commencing later today.
It follows an outpouring of support from a number of senior Liberal ministers.
“Gladys is the people’s choice as Premier and I support her as our leader,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet tweeted.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman, while speaking with Macquarie’s Alan Jones, said while he respects their views on the matter he could not support the spill.
“I respect their sincerity, I respect their views on this bill,” he said.
“But at the end of the day this is a conscience vote.. it’s not a government bill.. it’s not a Gladys Berejiklian bill.. and we have to respect each other’s consciences.”
Police minster David Elliot, Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Families and Communities Minister Gareth Ward also backed the Premier.
The private member’s bill was moved by Independent lower house MP Alex Greenwich in August and has caused plenty of division within the conservative faction of the party, who have raised concerns about late-term abortions, gender-based terminations and the way the bill was introduced.
In its current form, the legislation would allow terminations up to 22 weeks, as well as later abortions if two doctors agree the termination should occur.