NSW Transport Minister David Elliott has publicly thrown his hat in the ring to be the state’s next deputy Liberal leader following the resignation of Stuart Ayres.
- David Elliott says he has told the Premier he wants to be deputy leader
- Mr Elliott says he would bring leadership and experience to the role
- Former deputy leader Stuart Ayres resigned this week
Mr Elliott, who will take on one of Mr Ayres’s portfolios as Western Sydney Minister, said he was “prepared to put my name forward” to also fill the deputy leadership hole.
“The parliamentary Liberal Party has had a very traumatic period over the last couple of years and certainly in recent weeks with the loss of a number of ministers,” he said.
“I’ve said to the Premier, ‘I’ll make myself available.’
“Of course, it’s a matter for the party room but I believe I’ve got the leadership qualifications and experience in the military and the private sector to bring something to the party room leadership team.”
The Baulkham Hills MP is likely to face challenges from Treasurer Matt Kean, Roads Minister Natalie Ward and Alister Henskens — who holds multiple portfolios.
Mr Elliott said it would be up to his party colleagues to decide “what qualities they want to prioritize” in choosing a new deputy.
“It is certainly my attempt to provide (Premier) Dominic Perrottet, whether I’m deputy or not, with as much energy and as much frank advice and as much encouragement and loyalty as I possibly can.”
The NSW government was plunged into crisis yesterday when Mr Perrottet announced Mr Ayres had resigned.
It came after the former deputy Liberal leader, who held several ministerial portfolios, was found to have potentially breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct over his role in the John Barilaro saga.
The appointment of Mr Barilaro to a lucrative New York trade role generated instant controversy and sparked two separate inquiries into the recruitment process.
One of the inquiries, ordered by Mr Perrottet, has “raised concerns” about Mr Ayres’s conduct in his position as the trade minister during Mr Barilaro’s recruitment.
Mr Ayres said he agreed to step down but denies any wrongdoing.
“To maintain the integrity of the cabinet, I have decided to resign as a minister to allow the investigation to be completed,” he said.
“Accordingly, I will also be resigning as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.”
Mr Elliott said he was “heartbroken” at the loss of close friend Mr Ayres as deputy leader and a minister.
“Accepting his role as Minister for Western Sydney tomorrow does not come with any joy,” he said.
“I’m actually quite distressed about the fact that I’ve got to replace a guy who I think will be considered the best Western Sydney Minister that we’ve ever had.”
Mr Perrottet was also forced to sack Eleni Petinos from her position as fair trade and small business minister on Sunday night, after she became the subject of bullying allegations.
Ms Petinos rejected “any allegations of improper conduct”, but Mr Perrotett said he “had to take action” after being advised of issues within her office.