NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has played down the prospect of facing four by-elections soon after his elevation to the top job, saying his government will be judged on its record.
Holsworthy MP Melanie Gibbons announced her intention to quit state parliament on Wednesday and seek Liberal preselection for the federal seat of Hughes, which is held by Liberal turncoat Craig Kelly who had joined Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.
Ms Gibbons, whose southwest Sydney electorate sits inside Mr Kelly’s, said she would remain in state parliament until the federal election is called.
“I wish Mel all the very best,” Mr Perrottet said on Thursday.
He supported her right to quit but acknowledged it was disappointing when taxpayers had to pay for by-elections.
“Ultimately people make their own decisions,” he said.
“There are always by-elections … it’s just a fact, part of the political process.”
His message to voters was to stay the course with the government.
“It’s a difficult time for our state and we’ve come through it so far very well.
“We’ve been able to keep people safe – we’ve got one of the lowest death rates in terms of COVID in the world,” he said.
The government was now focused on opening up the state after lockdown and providing support to businesses to boost the economy.
“I’m happy to stand on that record in any by-election across the state,” he said.
Ms Gibbons is the second state government MP in as many weeks to quit for a tilt at a federal seat, after former Transport Minister, Bega MP Andrew Constance, announced he wants to win the seat of Gilmore back from Labor.
The government is also facing by-elections in the Willoughby seat of former premier Gladys Berejiklian and in Monaro after former deputy premier John Barilaro said he was also quitting parliament.
Ms Berejiklian resigned nearly two weeks ago and is preparing to face questions at the anti-corruption body which is investigating potential breaches of public trust.
ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian “exercised public functions” in a position of conflict given her secret five-year relationship with Daryl Maguire, the former Wagga Wagga MP.
The hearing resumes on Monday with former Premier Mike Baird due to give evidence on Wednesday.
Mr Perrottet said his deputy Stuart Ayres had told him on Wednesday that he would also give evidence to ICAC.
“I’m not concerned about that at all”.