Premier blindsided by spill motion

The motion will be moved by Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies and Liberal Senators Matthew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato over the Premier’s handling of a controversial abortion bill.

“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,” the MPs said in a joint statement last night.

“We have also been alarmed by the Premier’s continued failure to address the impasse in the Legislative Council which has slowly ground the government’s legislative agenda to dust.

“This position is also untenable and must be urgently resolved for the good government of this state.”

“Accordingly, we give notice that we will move the following spill motion in the Liberal Party room at 10am (today):

“That the position of Leader of the Liberal Party be declared vacant forthwith and that this spill motion be determined by a secret ballot in accordance with the rules governing meetings of the Parliamentary Liberal Party (adopted 20 Nov 1996).

“It is only with new leadership that we can again move forward as a united team delivering for the people of NSW.”

The private member’s bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW passed the NSW Lower House last month after weeks of debate.

Ms Berejiklian voted for the bill despite criticism from members of her own party.

Tuesday’s spill could see those same critics gather the numbers required to put the Premier’s leadership in doubt.

According to sources who spoke to The Australian, a vote against Ms Berejiklian retaining the leadership could draw between 15 and 20 votes in the 46-member party room.

The sudden announcement comes a day before Upper house MPs start considering changes to the private member’s bill on Tuesday, after some delay and a weekend of demonstrations from supporters and opponents of the draft legislation.

Tensions have simmered within the NSW government and the Premier Berejiklian has faced mounting pressure as opponents raise concerns about late-term abortions, conscientious objection, gender-based terminations and the way the bill was introduced.

Liberal MP Tanya Davies previously expressed her willingness to defect over the handling of the private member’s bill.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 passed the NSW lower house 59-31 in August with Liberal and Labor MPs having been allowed a conscience vote. 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. A group of upper house MPs, including the Shooters’ Robert Borsak, One Nation’s Mark Latham, Labor’s Courtney Houssos and the Liberals’ Natasha Maclaren-Jones, were expected to push a number of amendments this week.

Those who have demanded the withdrawal of the bill include ex-prime minister Tony Abbott and Ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

“It is only with new leadership that we can again move forward as a united team delivering for the people of NSW,” the statement from the three Liberal MPs said.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro in a tweet on Monday night said it was “ridiculous”, adding “our coalition agreement is with Gladys and any move would be a dumb move”.

Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister Gareth Ward also tweeted that Ms Berejiklian was the reason why the government had won the last election and “the reason why we’ll win the next one”.