MP’s abortion bill bombshell amid angry party room
The Independent MP behind the NSW abortion bill says he personally told Gladys Berejiklian and health Minister Brad Hazzard about his intention to pursue the legislation in May - two months before the issue was raised with their party room colleagues.
Ms Berejiklian on Thursday night denied that Mr Greenwich communicated his plans in May, putting the pair at direct odds over the events leading up to the first reading of the bill scheduled for Thursday.
Mr Greenwich also told The Daily Telegraph he has spoken to about 12 other government MPs in recent weeks about the legislation, in addition to his claims he told Ms Berejiklian and Mr Hazzard separately in May.
It comes amid internal government bitterness and anger from conservative MPs who feel they had no prior warning about the legislation and no time to consult over the issue.
Those tensions erupted in a divided party room meeting on Tuesday.
It is understood senior government figures supportive of the abortion legislation were conscious that the issue was going to come up in this term of parliament and were happy for Mr Greenwich to take the lead on it.
There was a sense that although the Premier was supportive of abortion legislation personally, she believed a conservative government could not bring a bill itself, given the Liberal party will likely have the most members of any party voting against the law change.
It is likely to be at least three weeks before a final decision is reached on the bill, with lower house debate slated for next week before the bill goes to the upper house in a fortnight.
Conservative MPs say they are receiving emails from constituents against abortion legislation, with the issue in "the top 10" of those which have prompted voter backlash.
Mr Greenwich wrote to every MP in the parliament on Tuesday night at 6.48pm, offering to connect them with experts and specialists to assist them with questions they need to ask to make an "informed decision" about the bill.
This included experts in obstetrics, gynaecologists, foetal medicine, health law and women's legal experts.
"Women's reproductive rights shouldn't be held hostage because a small handful of conservative MPs haven't done their homework," Mr Greenwich said.
He told The Daily Telegraph he had raised his abortion bill plan with Ms Berejiklian and Mr Hazzard soon after the state election in separate conversations.
Labor and Mr Greenwich were independently working on plans for legislation before the March election to bring to parliament in this term.
Mr Greenwich also publicly announced his intention in March, although the announcement received little attention in the heat of the state election.