Abbott throws support behind Gladys


Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian.
Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian to run for federal politics despite a corruption cloud over the ex-NSW premier.

Ms Berejiklian resigned from the top job in October, after the state’s corruption watchdog announced its probe into her former lover had widened to include her.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether she breached public trust or encouraged corrupt conduct during her secret relationship with ex-Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

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ICAC is yet to hand down its findings, but Ms Berejiklian has been encouraged by senior Liberal Party members to run for the formerly blue-ribbon Sydney seat of Warringah at the next federal election.

Mr Abbott, who lost the seat to independent Zali Steggall in 2019, told the Sydney Morning Herald he’d like to see Ms Berejiklian remain in public life.

“Gladys did a fine job as premier and was by far the best of them at resisting virus panic and calls for lockdowns,” he said on Monday.

“We certainly need more people in Canberra with an instinct for freedom and a feel for small business and it would be good to keep Gladys in our public life.”

Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Tony Abbott has thrown his support behind Gladys Berejiklian. Picture: Tim Hunter.

It’s understood some Liberals now believe Ms Berejiklian is their only chance of winning Warringah back.

Senior federal government members, including the Prime Minister, have publicly backed Ms Berejiklian and said they would “love” to see her run in the upcoming election.

Scott Morrison on Monday described her as a “person of great integrity” and said he would support any federal politics bid from her.

“If she wants to have a crack at Warringah for the Liberal Party, I suspect that the people would welcome that in Warringah,” he said.

Mr Morrison said Ms Berejiklian had not been “found” guilty of anything and accused ICAC of a “pile on”, though he failed to acknowledge its findings are yet to be handed down.

“There is no suggestion of criminal conduct … I don’t call (the ICAC process) justice,” Mr Morrison said.

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian maintained her innocence outside ICAC in Sydney. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard
Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian maintained her innocence outside ICAC in Sydney. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard

Mr Morrison, who is under considerable pressure to establish a federal integrity and corruption commission, has repeatedly attacked the way ICAC runs in NSW.

Nominations for preselection in Warringah have been extended until January 14, leaving the door open for Ms Berejiklian to decide if she wants to run.

Ms Steggall’s office has been contacted for comment.

More to come

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