ICAC not a consideration as Liberals say Berejiklian shifts thinking on federal tilt

Senior Liberals say the pending findings of a corruption inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian will have no bearing on whether the former NSW premier decides to run federally in Warringah.

Ms Berejiklian is weighing up the possibility of running in the northern Sydney seat two months after resigning from the top job when the Independent Commission Against Corruption revealed she was beinginvestigated over whether she breached the public trust or encouraged the occurrence of corrupt conduct during her secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is considering a tilt at federal politics.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is considering a tilt at federal politics.Nick Moir

TheHerald reported that nominations for the seat had been pushed back to January 14 specifically to give Ms Berejiklian more time to weigh up her options.

The ICAC will not report back publicly before the January date but on Sunday a senior Liberal who did not wish to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the talks said the corruption watchdog’s inquiry was not a consideration for Ms Berejiklian in whether she runs.

“The feds clearly don’t care and I don’t think the public cares either,” the Liberal Party source said. “The ICAC has clearly made up its mind,everyone knows what it’s going to say.

“The main question is does she really want to throw her life back into politics after a massive five years[as premier]. What does she want for this next chapter?”

Ms Berejiklian had told those in the party two weeks ago that she was not prepared to take on independent Zali Steggall in a bid to win back a once safe Liberal seat. But another Liberal source said she has “walked it back considerably” in recent days.

“I have no idea why,” they said. “But two weeks ago it was,not doing this,no way.

“Now it’s,let’s have a think about it.”

The Liberal said once the ICAC was “resolved” that there was nothing preventing Ms Berejiklian becoming a future prime minister.

“Her legal team is very confident and I think the public don’t think she has been caught with her hand in the till,” the source said.

“She could do it. I imagine[Scott Morrison] has pushed preselection[date back] because he has a glimmer of hope[that Berejiklian will nominate].”

Liberals believe Ms Berejiklian remains the best chance to win back the seat,which former prime minister Tony Abbott lost to Ms Steggall in 2019.

A recent survey by theResolve Political Monitor also indicated Ms Berejiklian’s favourability ratings hadrebounded significantly since her appearances before the ICAC.

TheHerald reported on Sunday that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg isplaying a key role in talks to try to persuade Ms Berejiklian to run.

The federal Liberals have long considered their path to re-election runs through NSW,witha slew of Labor marginals in the firing line.

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Lucy Cormack is a state political reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

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