Gladys Berejiklian Facing Internal Revolt Over Abortion Bill

NSW Liberal MPs angry over the current push to decriminalise abortion are working the phones about launching a potentially embarrassing censure of Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Liberal sources have confirmed members from the party’s hard right faction are drafting an ‘urgency motion’ to present to the state council meeting on Saturday.

It aims to rebuke the Premier over her handling of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019. While it isn’t a government bill, Berejiklian has been criticised for allowing debate in the Lower House to be brought on faster than normal.

The bill was presented to parliament with 15 co-sponsors from across the political divide, including Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Pro-choice advocates during a rally outside the New South Wales Parliament house in Sydney, Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Photo: AAP.

The Premier granted MPs a conscience vote on the bill. While Berejiklian voted in favour of it and supported it publicly when asked by the media, she did not speak during parliamentary debate.

The bill passed the Legislative Assembly 59-31 last month but it split the Liberal Party; 19 of 35 Lower House MPs voted against it.

READ MORE: Every MP Who Voted Against Decriminalising Abortion In NSW

10 News First understands any urgency motion would be dealt with as one of the first orders of business at Saturday’s council meeting at the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour.

However, it would still come after both the Prime Minister and Premier address the party faithful with individual speeches. It could create the potentially embarrassing scenario of the Premier being admonished minutes after trying to ‘rally the troops’ in her first council address since leading the party to victory in the March election.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian claiming victory at the NSW State Election. Photo: AAP.

Sources suggest any motion that directly attempts to censure the Premier by name will likely fail to pass. However, wording that calls for improved consultation and debate processes - a less subtle criticism - could gain sufficient support.

The potential motion follows confirmation two Liberals MPs are willing to move to the cross bench, depriving the Coalition of its two seat majority, unless amendments are made to the bill.

READ MORE: Experts Slam 'Insulting' Misinformation About Abortion Decriminalisation Bill

Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies told an event at St John's Anglican Cathedral Parramatta on Monday that she and a colleague (Riverstone MP Kevin Connolly) would “disconnect” themselves from the Government.

Connolly has told 10 News First he’s spoken directly with the Premier about his concerns.

“The way it was introduced and particularly that this government has facilitated it and expedited it has really left me in an untenable position,” Connolly said.

Member for Mulgoa Tanya Davies speaks during amendments to the introduction to the Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 in the Legislative Assembly at New South Wales Parliament House in Sydney, Thursday, August 8, 2019. Photo: AAP.

“I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of emails, phone calls and messages, just as all members have and of those that have come from constituents of Riverstone, 90 percent have wanted me to oppose this bill.”

Upper House Labor MLC Walt Secord believes Tanya Davies and Kevin Connolly are bluffing.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said.

“This whole fiasco has been caused by the Premier and her lack of leadership. At the beginning she said she supported the bill and then she gave a postponement to the hard right in her party.”

“You can’t walk both sides of the street and that’s what the Premier is trying to do."

The Premier’s office has declined to comment.

NSW is the only state that has not decriminalised abortion. Debate on the bill will resume in the Upper House on 17th September.

READ MORE: A State-By-State Breakdown Of Abortion Legalisation