LIBERAL MP Andrew Constance has ruled out any tilt at the NSW Premier’s role in the wake of Barry O’Farrell’s shock resignation on Wednesday.
Mr Constance said reports he was calling around to gauge support for Thursday afternoon’s leadership ballot were “just speculation”.
“My continued focus is on being Member for Bega and my various portfolio responsibilities,” he said on Thursday morning.
Whether this afternoon’s leadership vote also means a Cabinet reshuffle and portfolio changes – Mr Constance is currently Minister for Finance and Services – he said was “all in the hands of the Premier”.
“Gladys [Berejiklian] and Mike [Baird] have put their hands up and that bodes well for a continued good government.”
Mr Constance said the feeling in the NSW Liberal Party was one of shock and sadness.
“It is never easy when things like this happen, but the government has got to get on with the job.
“[Barry O’Farrell] is a fantastic guy who lifted this state from being the worst in the country to the best on so many indicators.
“He has a lot to be proud of.”
Baird, Berejiklian come to leadership agreement
CURRENT NSW Treasurer Mike Baird is set to become NSW Premier Thursday afternoon after he and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian confirmed they had reached an agreement whereby she would seek to become deputy Liberal leader.
Following a meeting at NSW Parliament on Thursday morning, the pair issued a joint statement as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We are contesting the leadership and deputy leadership of the NSW Liberal Party, with Mike Baird to become leader," they said.
"We strongly encourage our colleagues to support this decision this afternoon."
Ms Berejiklian was understood to have a slight edge over Mr Baird as counting of numbers continued overnight, but told him she would not run in the interests of party unity, given the prospect of a split vote.
The focus will now shift to the deputy's Liberal leader's position at the party room meeting at 3pm.
Ms Berejiklian will be challenged for the deputy leadership by Community Services Minister Pru Goward, who is aligned with the centre right faction.
It is understood Ms Berejiklian has told supporters she wishes to remain in the transport portfolio.
The position of Treasurer has yet to be settled upon, with some suggestions Mr Baird may retain the role as well as the Premier's job, given how close the change of leadership comes to the state budget on June 17.
The job could then be handed to Finance Minister Andrew Constance.