Gladys Berejiklian's most senior colleagues were blindsided by the Premier's evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday.

Despite Ms Berejiklian digging in her heels as leader, a number of her MPs were privately suggesting she should resign for the good of the team.

As Ms Berejiklian's explosive evidence to the ICAC played out, her own MPs were openly weighing up options for who could replace her as Premier.

The salacious details revealed at the corruption probe into former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire came as a shock to Liberals, with potential leadership contenders caught unaware about the details of Ms Berejiklian's evidence to the inquiry.

 

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is among those in line to become premier if Gladys Berejiklian quits. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is among those in line to become premier if Gladys Berejiklian quits. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

 

Minister for Planning Rob Stokes could throw his hat in the ring. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone
Minister for Planning Rob Stokes could throw his hat in the ring. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

 

Options raised by MPs as potential leadership options included: Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Planning Minister Rob Stokes, Transport Minister Andrew Constance, and Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

During the evidence, a number of senior Liberals said the Premier's position "didn't look good".

Others went further, suggesting her position was "untenable" and "impossible".

But after Ms Berejiklian declared she would stay on as leader, her closest allies lined up to back her in.

 

 

Mr Perrottet, the Deputy Liberal Leader, described Ms Berejiklian as "somebody of the utmost integrity and honesty".

"It has been an absolute pleasure to be by her side," he said.

Environment Minister Matt Kean last night denied suggestions from other MPs that he would consider a deal to support Mr Perrottet as leader.

Mr Kean remains one of Berejiklian's most staunch supporters and on Monday actively dismissed talk of a leadership change.

"Gladys Berejiklian is the best leader in the country and even she is entitled to a personal life," Mr Kean said.

 

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has been a high-profile minister. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has been a high-profile minister. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

 

Environment Minister Matt Kean has expressed support for Ms Berejiklian but could stand for the top job. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
Environment Minister Matt Kean has expressed support for Ms Berejiklian but could stand for the top job. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

Ministers from the party's moderate, centre right and right wing factions were all publicly backing the Premier yesterday.

Moderate Minister Gareth Ward said: Gladys Berejiklian is an honest and hard working person. The people of NSW have seen her lead - and I have no doubt that they will back her as will I.

Victor Dominello said "she is unquestionably one of the greatest leaders this country has ever seen".

Mr Dominello took to Twitter to tell Ms Berejiklian to "stay strong … NSW needs you".

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres also threw his support behind Ms Berejiklian.

"Gladys Berejiklian has led the state through the last six months in its most testing period of time, she's got my full support.

"I've got no doubt that she will always be putting the people of NSW first," he said.

 

Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s name has also been mentioned by MPs. Picture: Adam Yip
Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s name has also been mentioned by MPs. Picture: Adam Yip

 

The Liberal party's centre right faction has held a teleconference and elected to continue to back Ms Berejiklian for the job.

Minister David Elliott said the Premier had the faction's support.

"Centre right has just held our teleconference and the Premier has our complete and unanimous support. Suggestions that she should walk away from public life because of a failed personal relationship with a spiv are, quite frankly, draconian."

However, privately MPs were raising questions about how much damage the party could sustain in parliament under political attack from the Labor Party, with Ms Berejiklian as leader.

"If she wanted to look after the team she would vacate (the leadership)," one said.

Another likened the explosive evidence given to the ICAC as a "Pandora's box" that could unearth further revelations.

However, it was said that it would be unlikely to have anyone move against the premier without a declared challenger.

 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s leadership is tenuous after her affair with ex-MP Daryl Maguire was revealed. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s leadership is tenuous after her affair with ex-MP Daryl Maguire was revealed. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

 

The government enters a parliamentary sitting in an increasingly difficult position, as legislation in the Upper House could be put in jeopardy unless Ms Berejiklian resigns.

Crucial crossbencher Mark Latham said One Nation is "not inclined to support anything" the government proposes unless Ms Berejiklian resigns.

The government needs the support of the crossbench including One Nation to pass legislation in the upper house.

"I'm not inclined to support anything they put up when they're led by someone who has (made) 14 breaches of the Ministerial code of conduct, and who has acted disgracefully by hiding a secret relationship," Mr Latham said.

During Ms Berejiklian's evidence to the corruption watchdog, Greens Upper House MP David Shoebridge said it was "hard to see how the Premier can survive a day in parliament this week given the bombshells being dropped".

However Ms Berejiklian got the backing of two former Premiers on Monday.

She said Barry Mr O'Farrell, who resigned over an undeclared bottle of wine, contacted her to tell her "stay in your job".

And Mike Baird attracted over 1,000 Facebook likes within minutes for supporting the woman who succeeded him.

"It's been a very difficult day for my friend Gladys," he said.

"I've always known her as a woman of high integrity, who works tirelessly for the people of NSW. She's a great Premier, doing great things for this state."

When he decided to step down as premier in 2017, Mr Baird backed Ms Berejiklian - then Treasurer - for the job.

 

Originally published as Have your say: Who should be Premier?