A senior NSW minister insists he’s undistracted by talk of an early federal election after Malcolm Turnbull said he was concerned waiting until May would hurt the “outstanding” Berejiklian government.
The former prime minister has suggested his successor Scott Morrison call an election before NSW voters head to the polls on March 23 to help save Premier Gladys Berejiklian from defeat.
Mr Turnbull said he intended to go to the polls on March 2 before he was ousted.
He pointed to heavy Liberal party defeats in the Victorian election and state and federal by-elections as evidence of “brand damage”.
“I am very concerned – as many members of the NSW Liberal Party are – that (there) … has been considerable damage to the Liberal Party’s brand,” he told reporters on Monday.
“I am very concerned that this will put at risk the Berejiklian government.
“So, from the point of view of a very good state government with real achievements and a terrific track record, it would be better if the federal government were to go before the 23rd of March.”
Don Harwin, who leads the Berejiklian government in the upper house, welcomed Mr Turnbull’s praise but wouldn’t say if he wanted an early federal election.
“I’m flattered that Mr Turnbull thinks our government is outstanding,” he told AAP on Monday.
“When the federal election is held is a matter for the prime minister. I’m focused on getting the job done here and I’m not going to be distracted.”
Another NSW upper house Liberal MP, Peter Phelps, in October said it was the “near-universal view of my colleagues” that the Morrison government should go to an early election and “get smashed”.
“Stop driving down the vote in NSW and Vic in the lead up to our state elections,” he tweeted.
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley said he didn’t care when the federal election was.
“It’s not the federal Liberal Party that are knocking down stadiums … all of this is on the premier and her bad and disunited team,” he told reporters on Monday.