NSW PREMIER FACES MUTINY OVER ABORTION BILL

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian faces mutiny, with two Liberal MPs threatening to move to the cross-bench over the abortion bill if amendments aren’t made.  Former minister Tanya Davies agreed it would be “political suicide” but “absolutely” worth it.  The move would plunge the Premier into minority government, with her hold on power assured by a wafer-thin two seats.  Former minister Tanya Davies and Riverstone MP Kevin Connolly are both willing to go to the cross-bench if the abortion bill passes without amendments.  Ms Davies told the media she had warned the Premier of her intention.

“I continue to work with the Premier and Minister for Health on essential amendments to the abortion bill, if the amendments are not adopted into the abortion bill, my conscience will drive me to sit on the cross-bench,” she said.  “This position has been communicated to the Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister Hazzard.”  Ms Berejiklian has not commented.  The heated abortion bill debate has torn apart the Liberal Party and is set to return to the upper house in a fortnight.  Ms Davies has led the charge to ensure the legislation prevents sex-selective abortions.

Ms Davies said “There’s one thing that politicians pay attention to and that’s numbers.  At the moment, our government holds government by 50 plus two.  I am one of those two and there is another colleague and together we have told the Premier and the Deputy Premier that if you do not make essential amendments to this bill we will remove ourselves from the party room, which means we will disconnect ourselves from being bound by the leadership and the direction of the Liberals and Nationals,” Ms Davies said.  “Which means the government goes into minority government.”

She was asked if this equated to “political suicide”, which she confirmed but said it was “absolutely” worth it.  Ms Davies said “I’m called to do this, so I am not concerned about my future whatsoever.  My conscience will not allow me to stand alongside people who have just trampled upon you, upon my community, in the way that they have, and particularly over such a sensitive and highly complex and delicate subject such as abortion.”  Mr Connolly said he had been put in an “untenable position” by the bill: “What has been introduced and facilitated by my own side of politics is abhorrent and something has to change.”  He said he was taking a “stand on principle”.

Senior government sources are preparing for the possibility the divisive debate could last for months.  When the legislation is taken to the committee stage in the upper house, there is no time limit on how long members speak.  One source said there was nothing to stopping anyone opposing the legislation from speaking for hours on end.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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