Desperate Premier takes charge to end cabinet war
PREMIER Gladys Berejiklian has taken charge of crisis talks between factional powerbrokers, in a bid to thrash out a solution to the civil war in her cabinet.
In a crisis of confidence for the state Liberal leadership team, the anger on Ms Berejiklian's backbench over the infighting is considered "white hot", with several MPs willing to support a spill motion against Deputy Leader Dominic Perrottet.
Frontbench MP Ray Williams has backed off his threatened spill motion, after Mr Perrottet issued a challenge for his seat, but it is possible a backbencher could move for a spill when the party meets tomorrow to signal their discontent.
As the Premier intervened, crisis talks continued into last night in a bid to quell the factional warfare, with the deals brokered likely to include trading upper house spots in the hope of putting out several other looming internal fires at the same time.
The Premier supports Mr Perrottet as her deputy, but awkwardly made a scheduled appearance with Mr Williams at a local festival yesterday, with both dodging disunity questions.
New ReachTel polling yesterday further rattled the backbench. It locked the major parties neck and neck, while the Coalition's primary vote slumped to 35 per cent.
Labor leader Luke Foley just edged past Ms Berejiklian as preferred premier.
One senior Liberal source said the Perrottet-Williams feud had "lit the fuse on the demise of the government".
Solution options being canvassed include offering Mr Williams an upper house seat, or encouraging him to take Mr Perrottet's seat.
It's understood deals and trade-offs being thrashed out last night will also look to secure the upper house positions of Natasha Maclaren Jones, Taylor Martin and Peter Phelps.
There were also conversations about challenges to sitting female MPs Felicity Wilson and Eleni Petinos.
Internal anger is largely directed at Mr Perrottet for sparking the furore, over his bid to switch safe seats. Close sources say he is disappointed the party did not deal with the issue earlier.
MPs believe that they will pay for the infighting in marginal seats.
"It will not be their seats that are lost … it will be ours and possibly government as well," one said.
Another senior Liberal described the fight as "kamikaze politics".