Humiliating blow for Treasurer in bid for new seat
TREASURER Dominic Perrottet has been dealt a humiliating blow after being forced to walk away from his bid to contest his cabinet colleague's seat after the infighting threatened to cripple the government.
In a slap down for Mr Perrottet - who was widely seen as the next Liberal leader - he was forced into the backdown when Premier Gladys Berejiklian could not convince Multicultural Minister Ray Williams to hand over his seat in a marathon late-night meeting at her North Shore home on Sunday.
After days of politically disastrous infighting - which has senior ministers and backbenchers furious - the Premier managed delicate conversations and convinced Mr Perrottet to reconsider.
Multiple MPs across Liberal party factions have told The Daily Telegraph Mr Perrottet has severely damaged his standing in the party room where he had previously been highly respected.
"He'll never be leader now," one senior government member said.
The deal struck via Ms Berejiklian, which was agreed to by all three factions, sees Damien Tudehope give up his seat of Epping for Mr Perrottet and move into the upper house.
Under the deal, centre right MLC Natasha Maclaren Jones has also been guaranteed her "at large spot" in the upper house.
The deal also saves Mr Williams even after he threatened to move a spill against Mr Perrottet for his deputy leader's position. Several sources believe the deals struck will fuel ongoing factional warfare just six months out from the election. One minister last night described the infighting as "free fall".
It can be revealed that Mr Perrottet made a series of apologetic phone calls to ministers and MPs over the course of the weekend.
Some said he was apologising for the drama sparked by his challenge for Mr Williams's seat. But in addition, he was attempting to explain himself and explain that it was for family reasons that he wanted to represent an electorate closer to his home.
Mr Williams said last night he "credited the Premier". "I thank her for the strong role she's played in resolving this matter," he said.
"She's showed remarkable leadership. Now we need to get back to work. It's a lesson that we should never take our communities for granted."
Several other ministers told The Daily Telegraph the final negotiations were a credit to the Premier.
It is understood that Mr Williams's centre right faction could have mustered the preselection numbers at Castle Hill to defeat the Treasurer should the messy preselection battle have been allowed to continue.
Sources close to Mr Perrottet said he had made his desire to switch seats known well in advance of the issue exploding.
Supporters of Mr Perrottet were deeply disappointed the party had not handled the conflict in a better way.
Seasoned political strategists in government offices last night said they were stunned by the way the Liberals were "imploding" so close to the election.