Freedom Day could be coming early for NSW residents as rumours swirl Dominic Perrottet will ease Covid restrictions this week in his first act as Premier.
Mr Perrottet is ‘seriously considering’ bringing Freedom Day forward from Monday October 11 to Friday October 8, the Today Show reported.
Mr Perrottet, 39, is favourite to be crowned state premier when shell-shocked Liberal MPs gather to choose Gladys Berejiklian’s replacement
He will face Planning Minister Rob Stokes in a party room vote for the leadership at 10am on Tuesday AEDT.
Ms Berejiklian quit on Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog disclosed she was under investigation for potential breaches of public trust given her secret five-year relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire.
Sporting dark sunglasses, Dominic Perrottet was spotted at his ministerial office in Sydney’s Martin Place on Monday as he tried to shore up support
Rob Stokes and Dom Perrottet enjoy a picnic together, above, earlier this year. The close mates will have to fight it out in the NSW Liberal party room on Tuesday
Mr Perrottet and Mr Stokes (middle and on right) often go jogging together
Long touted as the premier-in-waiting, the treasurer on Sunday struck a deal with his moderate colleagues to make Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres his deputy and promote Environment Minister Matt Kean to treasurer.
But Planning Minister Rob Stokes is refusing to back down.
The Pittwater MP has offered himself as a more experienced alternative to 39-year-old Mr Perrottet, arguing he was the party’s best shot at winning the 2023 election.
‘Dominic Perrottet is a good friend of mine. He has a lot of great qualities. I just believe in terms of experience that I offer more,’ he told reporters on Monday.
But the 47-year-old remained coy on his chances of winning the leadership when the Liberal party room meets.
‘That is up to my colleagues,’ he said.
‘I feel very confident that I have every chance of being successful but, after all, the main game here is to give a choice to the people of the party room.’
Mr Perrottet on Monday played up his credentials working alongside Ms Berejiklian as deputy leader, and argued for stability.
‘As Gladys demonstrated so well, leading a successful Liberal and National government requires unity across our party’s ‘broad church’,’ he wrote in an opinion piece published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
Rob Stoles (pictured right with ministerial colleague Natalie Ward) has refused to bow out of the leadership race for his good mate Dominic Perrottet
The father-of-six, who could be hours away from becoming the next NSW Premier, flashed a grin for the photographers outside his office on Monday
‘We can only do that if we remain united, and maintain stability and continuity for the people of our state.’
Former prime minister and Liberal party elder John Howard has backed Mr Perrottet, saying he is driven and reform-focused.
It comes as the NSW Nationals prepare for their own leadership contest.
The NSW government will have an entirely fresh leadership team by Wednesday, after Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro announced he too would quit parliament on Monday.
Paul Toole and Adam Marshall are expected to join Melinda Pavey in a three-way race to fill his position, with a party room vote due Wednesday.
Mr Barilaro’s resignation means the NSW government faces three by-elections in coming months for the seats of Willoughby, Bega and Monaro, after Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Sunday also announced he was leaving to attempt a switch to federal politics.
Dominic Perrottet spent the public holiday Monday hard at work shoring up the numbers for the top job to be decided on Tuesday
Opposition leader Chris Minns on Monday blasted Mr Constance and Mr Barilaro for resigning during the pandemic.
‘That you’ve got a new job opportunity or you’d like to move into a new political arena is not a good enough reason to abandon your electorate and start a new career, particularly during a pandemic,’ he said.
By-elections cost upwards of $1.5 million each, he said, and urged them to reconsider their decisions to quit.