The deputy premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resign, telling Sydney radio station 2GB he should “give Australians a Christmas gift and go before Christmas”.
In a scathing attack on federal politics, Barilaro, who became leader 12 months ago after the Nationals lost a key seat in a state by-election and his predecessor resigned, called Turnbull “out of touch”, saying the party and government was in disarray.
Speaking to Alan Jones — who later tweeted Turnbull’s leadership was “the elephant in the room” — Barilaro said he’d “lost all hope”, predicting that voters will take to the NSW government, which faces an election in 2019, with “baseball bats” if he didn’t step down, or they’re be another “stabbing in the back… in the months ahead”.
“What really got my goat on Sunday was to hear the Prime Minister of this nation turn around and say there were no federal issues that affected the State Government and the state election,” he said.
“I mean that’s just a joke. If you’re completely out of touch like that comment, which showed clearly that the federal issues were impacting on the way state voters were voting in a state election, in my mind, it just shows that there is no leadership.”
Thank God for the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
He's identified the elephant in the room. And he's saying publicly what Turnbull's colleagues are saying privately. pic.twitter.com/2LxbYq6P54
— Alan Jones (@AlanJones) November 30, 2017
His call opens up another front in the growing rift between the Coalition’s Liberal leadership and an increasingly fractious Nationals backbench, which was pushing for a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s banking system and forced the Prime Minister’s hand to announce a Royal Commission yesterday.
Barilaro’s comments also come on the eve of the by-election for federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce’s former NSW seat of New England, which he is expected to regain in tomorrow’s vote.
The NSW Nationals leader told Alan Jones “Turnbull is the problem”.
“He should step down, allow for a clean out of what the leadership looks like federally. And whoever governs the country needs to make sure that they put the country and its people first,” he said
“You’ve got a party in disarray, a coalition government in disarray and the community is not unified and that is all at the feet of the Prime Minister of Australia.”
Meanwhile, Turnbull was on Melbourne sister station 3AW this morning and said Barilaro was “trying to ingratiate himself” with Jones, one of the Prime Minister’s staunchest critics.
“It is odd he has never raised these matters with me personally,” Turnbull said.
“He has got my number he can call me anytime.”
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian issued a statement saying the PM has her “full and absolute support”.
“Mr Barilaro has expressed a personal view which I do not share,” she said.
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