48 year old Gladys Berejiklian, has been the member for the NSW seat of Willoughby since 2003, after the retirement of former Opposition Leader Peter Collins. She has held a number of portfolios including that of State Treasurer for two years, under the previous Premier Mike Baird. When he resigned, she was elected the 45th Premier of NSW on the 23rd January 2017. .
After a short stint in Banking with the Commonwealth Bank, she had transitioned to a distinguished political career, with degrees in Arts and International Studies from Sydney University and a Masters in Commerce from the University of NSW.
A high achieving woman in politics, the eldest of three daughters of immigrant Armenian parents, with moderate policies and a level headed personality, she has had broad electoral appeal and potential for a long future in State politics. But will her career stall if she fails to win the next election four months away, on Saturday March 23, 2019,
As a Queenslander, I do not follow the NSW political scene closely but it seems to me that even after Luke Foley’s inglorious demise as leader of the Labor Party, the Liberals could face an uphill battle to retain office, if Labor’s landslide win in the Victorian State Election last weekend is any guide.
The 17% swing against the Liberals in the October 20, 2018 Wentworth by-election far exceeded expectations, but it was understandable given the esteem within the electorate for Malcolm Turnbull, Dr Kerryn Phelps’s high profile, and Scott Morrison’s missteps in the week leading up to the election.
The overall swing of about 5.3% to Labor and 6.7% swing away from the Liberal Party in Victoria on Saturday 24th November 2018 came as a surprise, and is likely to give Labor 16 more seats, from 45 to 61, of 88 lower house seats. The swing in some seats , worryingly for politicians involved in the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull, has been of the order of 10-11%.
Conservatives blame a poor campaign by Liberal leader Mathew Guy, instead of festering federal coalition disunity. However, if there is a similar swing at the NSW State election in March next year, they will be proved wrong. NSW may be a stronghold of the ugly Right faction of the Liberal Party, but in-spite of this the Liberals after holding the seat for over sixty years, lost the Wagga Wagga State by-election 8th September 2018, two weeks after the Federal Leadership spill, with a swing against them of more than 28%. The independent candidate Dr Joe McGirr won with 59.6% of the two-party preferred vote.
Conservatives under-estimate small-l liberal resentment if they expect supporters to meekly roll over and submit without protest after their bullying tactics to remove Malcolm Turnbull. They will have learned nothing if they continue on with more of the same dogmatic rhetoric, fail to acknowledge past injustices, and adopt an aggressive scare campaign in the lead up to the next election due in May.
Julia Banks, Liberal member for Chisholm, today joined the ranks of disaffected women because of bullying by male colleagues. TV Commentator Paul Murray showed the reasonableness of her allegations by calling her “a rat” on his Sky News program.
Further illustration of the bullying sexist culture within the Liberal Party today was a double entendre inference by MP Barry O’Sullivan in his address, that SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young had had sexual relations with former federal member Nick Xenophon. It has followed extremely derogatory sexist remarks by Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm and it reduced her to tears. No Liberal came to her defence, and it was left to the Greens Leader Richard di Natale to rebuke him.
It would not surprise if more Liberal women revolted, with Scott Morrison powerless to maintain a standard of common decency in parliamentary debate.
Whilst hypocritically accusing Labor for hubris after the Victorian State Election result, when parliament returned on Monday 27th November 2018, he cockily taunted Bill Shorten for trailing well behind him in the polls as preferred Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has decided to bring the next Budget forward by one month to April 2 2019, with the Federal Election 5-6 weeks later on May 11 or 18, 2019, leaving NSW Liberals to fight their election with unresolved turmoil within the Federal Coalition.
How will Gladys fare?