United front sees Mike Baird take the lead
A UNITED front guaranteed them the NSW Liberal Party Leadership and as incoming Premier Mike Baird and his deputy
Gladys Berejikilian emerged from the party room today, the people of NSW were introduced to a partnership likely to delight the corporate world, sicken unions and result in the sale of the state's electricity assets.
In the hours following Barry O'Farrell's shock resignation over an undeclared bottle of wine yesterday, the Treasurer and Transport Minister were both tipped to contest the role of Premier but a behind closed doors meeting led to pair announcing, in a joint statement this morning, that Ms Berejikilian would run as deputy leader.
By the time senior Liberal Party figures met at 3pm, the result was a foregone conclusion but while the ballot was over in minutes, the morning had not run as smoothly.
Both Community Services Minister Pru Goward and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts had planned to contest the deputy leadership but it's understood they withdrew before the vote in an effort to portray party unity.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney this afternoon the newly elected premier maintained his team was united, despite the events of the past 24 hours.
With his family on one side and his new deputy on the other, Mr Baird said all members of the party were "shocked and saddened "by the resignation of Mr O'Farrell whom he described as a "man of integrity".
"Barry O'Farrell has done a great job - his legacy is positive and permanent," Mr Baird said
"We just need to reflect on where we were and where we are today."
Referring to Ms Berejikilian as his "good mate and an incredible worker and transport minister,"
While the cabinet reshuffle is yet to be confirmed, political analysts believe Mr Baird is likely to stay on as Treasurer until the State Budget is handed down in June.
Before the ballot had even been held, union chiefs vowed they would continue to fight the privatisation of electricity assets.
Electrical Trade Union Secretary Steve Butler went as far as comparing the current negotiations regarding the ownership of electricity company's to the ICAC investigation into Australian Water Holidays, which led Mr O'Farrell to resign over an undeclared bottle of vintage wine, sent as a gift by AWA chief Nick Di Girolamo.
"The push to privatise our publicly owned power assets isn't being driven by the public - independent polling has consistently shown they are overwhelmingly opposed - instead it is being advocated by vested interests and political lobbyists to deliver a financial windfall for their private-sector backers," Mr Butler said.
"We are seeing the exact same approach to power privatisation, with Liberal Party insiders, well-paid lobbyists, and vested interest groups using their influence to try and see the electricity poles and wires handed to the private sector for their financial benefit."
Mr Baird maintained the state was moving forward under a Coalition Government.
He said he had heard the concerns of the community and vowed that in coming weeks, the government would work to restore public confidence.
"Despite the challenges...we believe in what we are doing," Mr Baird said
"My hope is that when we leave the people of NSW will say 'thank you - you have made this state better'."