Nationals, Barilaro back down on threat to shift to cross bench

NSW Coalition crisis: Nationals back down on koala policy cross bench threat after Gladys Berejiklian ultimatum

Politics
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Prior to the emergency meetings on Friday, Mr Barilaro argued on 2GB that his position had been misinterpreted.

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NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro's position as deputy premier will come into the spotlight after he reportedly backed down on Thursday's threat to split the Coalition.

Mr Barilaro had declared on Thursday that he would take the party to the cross bench amid a policy dispute with the NSW Liberals, a possibility that would have devastated the Berejiklian government's majority.

AAP confirmed on Friday morning that Mr Barilaro had backed down after blindsiding Ms Berejiklian on Thursday when he announced his MPs would abstain from voting on coalition bills as they fought changes to the protection plan.

The pair are expected to release a joint statement on the outcome of their meeting later this morning.

Ms Berejklian told the Nationals leader he had until 9am today to decide whether the party would stay in the political alliance or lose its cabinet positions and shift to the cross bench.

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The stoush erupted on Thursday after the Nationals announced the move over an ongoing debate seeking amendments koala policy that became law in December.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Catherine Cusack branded the announcement, which was made public before the premier was informed "unprecedented disloyalty".

Prior to the emergency meetings on Friday, Mr Barilaro argued on 2GB that his position that MPs would abstain from voting on government legislation had been misinterpreted.

"What we said yesterday was that no one would go physically to the cross bench," Mr Barilaro said.

"But what was turned on us because we said we won't vote on government bills until this is resolved but we will vote on bills and motions on the regions that, effectively, the whole party's gone to the cross bench.

"They're not sitting on the cross bench, we are not going to the cross bench."

On Thursday he had said the abstention meant his MPs were "essentially on the cross bench" over the issue.

The Nationals have 13 lower house MPs, while the Liberals have 35 and Labor 36.

Bega MP and NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance told reporters in Sydney on Friday that Mr Barilaro's leadership was a matter for the Nationals.

The story Nationals, Barilaro back down on threat to shift to cross bench first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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