POLITICS

'Ready For Anything' Berejiklian Takes Top Job In NSW

Gladys Berejiklian has been voted Liberal leader unopposed.

23/01/2017 10:24 AM AEDT | Updated 23/01/2017 1:37 PM AEDT
Fairfax Media

The New South Wales Parliament is not known as the "bear pit" for nothing.

Gladys Berejiklian has announced she is "ready for anything" as she rises to become the state's 45th Premier and first female Liberal leader.

The now outgoing Treasurer and Liberal moderate stood unopposed on Monday morning to succeed Mike Baird at a meeting of the state Liberal partyroom.

Berejiklian will become the state's first Liberal female Premier and, after Labor's Kristina Keneally, the second woman to hold the office.

Berejiklian walked out of the partyroom meeting beaming, with Baird by her side.

Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, a Liberal right faction member, becomes Deputy Liberal Leader and will become Deputy Premier and is expected to become Treasurer.

"I am looking forward to the challenges. I know it won't be easy," she told reporters in Sydney.

"I am excited by the prospect of taking our State to the next level and making sure every community feels part of the success we have built for six years as a Government."

She said her policy priorities as Premier would be:

  • local infrastructure;
  • housing affordability;
  • and building a strong economy, with an emphasis on more jobs.

After a few probing questions on her private life, Berejiklian declared, "I have been in public life for a long time. I have been a senior minister for six years."

"I am ready for anything."

Asked about she winds down - her predecessor Baird was known for his surfing - Berejiklian was tentative.

"To be frank, I love reading, watching movies," she said. "I am an average golf player, but I know I don't have more time for that in my life.

"I am pretty much a regular girl who likes to do regular things."

Berejiklian is regarded as socially progressive, including support for same sex marriage and - in a test for her relationship with the Turnbull Government - for the Labor initiated Gonski education funding reforms.

"I know what a public education can do for somebody," she said in her first press conference as Premier.

"If I didn't have access to that education, I wouldn't be standing before you here today."

The daughter of Armenian migrants, a boilermaker and a nurse, was born in Sydney but could not speak English up until the age of 5.

"I want every person in New South Wales, no matter where they live, to feel that they have the choices and the opportunities to be their best," she said.

"That is certainly what I have done."

With waiting media alongside and amid congratulations from the public, Berejiklian - a former long-time Transport Minister - caught the bus to work.

Former Premier Keneally has offered advice, not so much to Berejiklian, but to the media covering her ascendancy as a female politician.

"Resist the urge to write about – or read about – their shoes, hair, nail polish or jewellery." she writes in the Guardian.

"They will wear the same dress twice, just like male politicians wear the same suit over and over. Deal with it.

"I am confident she knows exactly what it means to be a woman in the NSW bearpit."

Baird made a surprise resignation announcement last Thursday halfway through the parliament's term and is expected to leave politics as soon as possible.

He has quickly deleted his twitter account, despite being known as a master of social media.

Family health problems weighed heavily on Baird, but he was also tacking wavering popularity over political backfires such as banning greyhound racing and night-time lockout laws.

Berejiklian is standing by the decisions she took as Baird's deputy.

"I take full responsibility and I want to. We have been a great Government," she told reporters in Sydney.

"We have made sure that our State, going from the worst economic position in the nation, having the worst Budget position is now the strongest."

"That means more jobs, better services and more infrastructure. We have made sure, we have turned the State around in every single way."

A swearing in ceremony will be held later Monday and a Cabinet reshuffle is now on the cards.

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