There is speculation Gladys Berejiklian could be parachuted into a federal seat despite the corruption investigation into her actions as NSW Premier.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has fuelled speculation Gladys Berejiklian could be parachuted into a federal seat after claims the NSW anti-corruption watchdog is a “disgrace” and a “kangaroo court.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has raised eyebrows in recent days by launching an unprecedented attack on the watchdog and claiming Ms Berejiklian had been “done over” by the corruption probe – despite the fact it is yet to report any findings.
Asked whether Scott Morrison was laying the groundwork for Ms Berejiklian to run as a candidate for the Sydney seat of Warringah at the next federal election, Mr Frydenberg lauded her as a “wonderful leader and incredible politician”.
“There will be decisions she will need to make in her own time. But I would hope her career in public life is not over,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.
Liberal Party figures have previously downplayed the prospect of Ms Berejiklian running at the next election pointing out that this would be a high risk proposition until the ICAC probe was complete.
Submissions in reply from the parties’ lawyers are due on February 14. That means there’s little prospect of an outcome before the federal election is held, most likely in March or May.
But the Prime Minister’s outburst in Parliament on Thursday as he faced attacks for failing to deliver on a pledge to introduce a federal corruption watchdog has raised questions over whether there’s a strategy behind his claims.
The ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian had a conflict of interest and breached the public’s trust by having a part in awarding money to a gun club in Wagga Wagga without disclosing her relationship with the disgraced local MP Darryl Maguire.
It’s also investigating whether she failed in her duty to report suspected corruption, and whether she encouraged that sort of behaviour by turning a blind eye.
Ms Berejiklian has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
In parliament on Thursday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese noted that the majority of Australians supported a federal anti-corruption watchdog.
“Why has the Prime Minister refused to act for more than 1000 days?” he asked.
In response, Mr Morrison said the legislation that sets out the government’s proposed reforms had been “out there” for some time and Labor didn’t support it.
“Instead, those opposite want to support the sort of show in NSW, which has seen the most shameful, the most shameful attacks on the former premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian,” the Prime Minister said.
“What was done to Gladys Berejiklian, the people of NSW know, was an absolute disgrace.
“I’m not going to allow that sort of a process, which seeks to publicly humiliate people on matters that have nothing to do with the issues before such a commission, to see those powers abused and seek to reduce the integrity of people like Gladys Berejiklian.
“The Australian people know that the former premier of NSW was done over by a bad process, and an abuse. I’m not going to have a kangaroo court taken into this parliament.
“These things, these matters should be looking at criminal conduct, not who your boyfriend is.
“Criminal conduct! Criminal conduct is what this should look at, not chasing down someone’s love life.”
Earlier, there was chaos on the floor of parliament as a Tasmanian government MP crossed the floor to vote with the independents and opposition.
Moderate Liberal MP Bridget Archer defied her own party to support a motion from independent MP Helen Haines, calling for an urgent debate on her bill to establish a federal integrity commission.
“I don’t take this decision lightly at all. I take this decision very seriously to stand here. And it’s a difficult decision,” Ms Archer told the House.
“This is one of the most important things that we come to this place to do. I think we should suspend standing orders and have this debate.
“The time has gone on long enough.”