ABC NEWS report from Australia : Dominic Perrottet says he will take NSW to “the next level” after winning a party room ballot to become the state’s 46th Premier.
Mr Perrottet, who will be sworn in as the new Premier this afternoon, said his leadership marked a “new chapter” for the state and he would focus on “infrastructure and family”.
He beat Planning Minister and close friend Rob Stokes 39 votes to 5 in the vote this morning.
Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres will become his deputy leader and Matt Kean, who is the current Environment Minister, will be promoted to Treasurer.
The party room was forced to vote for a new leader after the shock resignation of Gladys Berejiklian last Friday following an announcement that she would be investigated for alleged corruption.
Mr Perrottet, 39, acknowledged the events of the last few days had been difficult for the people of NSW who were at a critical juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unexpected change can bring uncertainty, and sometimes that can feel unsettling,” he said.
“But as hard as it may be, we all have a duty as a state to keep going. Today, begins a new chapter for New South Wales, and one that we will all write together.
“Our team will bring the energy, the experience to get our state safely open again, and then take it to the next level.”
Mr Perrottet said he would continue the strong leadership Ms Berejiklian had shown throughout the pandemic and he intended to commit to October 11 as the day many lockdown restrictions ease for the fully vaccinated.
He said he would meet with health officials today to discuss the roadmap out of lockdown as there were “a number of issues that need to be looked at”.
“Our first priority will be to continue the plan we have started; keeping people safe, opening up the economy and securing our recovery,” he said.
A cabinet reshuffle will take place later in the year, Mr Perrottet said, as the government needed to focus on transitioning the state out of lockdown now.
There are currently only two women in the NSW cabinet and Mr Perrottet said this wasn’t good enough.
“I want a diverse cabinet and I will make those changes at the appropriate time … this month is not the appropriate time, what is appropriate right now is that we open up safely.”
Mr Perrottet said as state leader he would focus predominately on infrastructure, which was considered Ms Berejiklian’s legacy, and working families.
“Up until now, all of our Liberal premiers have been infrastructure premiers … and that will not change with me, but I will also be a family premier, focusing on how we can make life better for working families, living the Liberal values of opportunity, aspiration and hard work.”
Mr Perrottet, who is a devout Catholic father of six, has always been open about how his faith shapes his politics and opposed the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW as well as same-sex marriage.
But he asked people not to judge him for his religious beliefs.
“People should judge people on who they are and what they say … I am very proud of the fact that I have a strong Christian faith. Does that in any way take away my capacity to serve as Premier? Well, I do not think so, and I think it is a sad thing that some people do.”
Mr Perrottet is opposed to voluntary assisted dying but said he would support a conscience vote on the issue when a bill is put forward in Parliament later this month.
“Commentators can commentate but my position has been very clear in my long-held views that the Liberal Party, on those issues, has a conscience vote, that’s not changed.”
While Mr Perrottet is from the less dominant right faction of the Liberal party, Mr Ayres and Mr Kean are from the moderate faction.
Following the vote Mr Stokes pledged his loyalty to Mr Perrottet.
“The party room had a democratic vote, I always said I would give people a choice, and they have chosen emphatically, democracy is the winner,” he said.
“Dominic Perrottet will be a magnificent Premier and he has new undivided loyalty and support.
“I will use every ounce of strength in my body to make sure that he is re-elected as Premier in New South Wales when we go to the polls in 2023.”
Ms Berejiklian did not attend the party room meeting today and it is understood she did not vote.
Mr Perrottet said she sent him well wishes yesterday and passed on a message she wanted delivered to the party room that he declined to comment on.
Later this year a new cabinet will be put together by Mr Perrottet after the high-profile resignations of Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro and Transport Minister Andrew Constance over the last two days.
He will face an early test as Premier when by-elections are held in Mr Barilaro’s electorate of Monaro, Mr Constance’s seat of Bega and Ms Berejiklian’s seat of Willoughby.
Mr Perrottet has had a swift rise through the ranks and was expected to win the vote today comfortably.
He was appointed deputy leader and treasurer in the Berejiklian government and has been recognised for his strong economic management of NSW.
However, his accession has not been without controversy and last year he was forced to apologise over the mismanagement of the $38 billion state-run insurance scheme icare which underpaid injured workers.