‘Shocked’ Premier’s majority wiped out amid MP rape claim

 

Gladys Berejiklian's parliamentary majority has been wiped out after Michael Johnsen "agreed" not to sit in the Nationals and Coalition party room.

That has put Mr Johnsen onto the crossbench and the government into minority, Liberal sources confirmed.

If other members of the crossbench oppose government legislation in parliament, the Coalition will be forced to rely on the votes of Mr Johnsen, who is under police investigation following an allegation of rape, and Drummoyne MP John Sidoti - himself under the cloud of an imminent ICAC hearing relating to developer dealings.

Upper Hunter Nationals MP Michael Johnsen.
Upper Hunter Nationals MP Michael Johnsen.

Ms Berejiklian said she had "not given too much thought" to whether Mr Johnsen not sitting in the Nationals party room would put the Coalition into minority government.

With Mr Sidoti and Mr Johnsen on the crossbench, the Coalition has 46 members in the lower house - including Speaker Jonathan O'Dea. The Opposition and crossbench number 47 MPs, including Mr Sidoti and Mr Johnsen.

A Labor source said the party hasn't seen Mr Sidoti in the house for votes all week, and the government has confirmed Mr Johnsen will take time off from parliament.

With both men absent, the government has 45 votes against 45 non government votes.

This means the Liberal speaker would be required to use a casting vote to resolve any divisions.

Nationals Leader John Barilaro issued a statement on Thursday saying he "sought Mr Johnsen's resignation" as parliamentary secretary.

"Mr Johnsen also agreed to no longer sit in Nationals Party Room nor Joint Party Room while the police investigation is underway."

Mr Johnsen on Wednesday night said he had "voluntarily spoken with NSW police" after allegations he said he was "devastated by".

"I am confident any investigation will conclude that I am an innocent party," he said.

The Premier on Thursday has been forced to cancel a picture opportunity on Thursday morning to visit and thank SES volunteers to get back parliament.

Ms Berejiklian said she was "absolutely shocked at this serious allegations that were raised" by Labor's Trish Doyle in parliament.

The Premier said she was "somewhat relieved that it's subject to a police investigation".

"I think all of us want to make sure that justice is served well and properly, and the alleged victim needs to be able to have a process where nothing is prejudiced," Ms Berejiklian said

"I'm limited in what I can say suffice to say that I'm grateful that the police are investigating the matter. And all of us want to get to the bottom of it."

Originally published as 'Shocked' Premier's majority wiped out amid MP rape claim

 

John Sidoti. Picture: Dean Lewins
John Sidoti. Picture: Dean Lewins

New transport hub set to open within weeks

Premium Content New transport hub set to open within weeks

The precinct will link in with other recently-completed infrastructure projects.

Grand plan to double the size of popular farmers' market

Premium Content Grand plan to double the size of popular farmers' market

A proposal for a much larger market is on the table.

Film, TV projects: What councils can and cannot do

Premium Content Film, TV projects: What councils can and cannot do

Road closures for filming reasons are becoming common on the Northern Rivers. But...