As the Liberals prepare to elect a new leader, Dominic Perrottet has emerged as the frontrunner. The Treasurer has allegedly brokered a factional deal with Stuart Ayres and Matt Kean that essentially guarantees him the premiership at Tuesday’s ballot.
The deal will see Ayres, currently the Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism, and Minister for Western Sydney, become deputy leader of the Liberals. Environment Minister Kean will take over the role of Treasurer.
So who is Dominic Perrottet?
Perrottet was elected as NSW Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the NSW Liberal Party in January of 2017. He hails from the Right faction of the Liberals, and is well known for his conservative views. Former PM John Howard voiced his support yesterday, calling Perrottet “the best person” for the job.
Being a firm Catholic – father to six children and himself one of twelve – Perrottet has spoken out against abortion and stated gay marriage will threaten ‘freedom of speech’. He has also argued that state welfare payments are to blame for declining fertility rates, as they remove any incentive to have children and lead to family breakdowns.
In 2015, he claimed that spending money on battling climate change was a “gratuitous waste”. And in 2019 he doubled down on these comments.
After Donald Trump won the 2016 election in America, Perrottet wrote him a long and laudatory Facebook post, celebrating the “victory” for “a forgotten people”.
Outside of his outdated views on sociopolitical matters, Perrottet has also sparked controversies around projects he founded as Treasurer. One such is the icare scandal.
After Perrottet created it in 2015, icare became Australia’s largest workers’ compensation scheme, and its board is still directly responsible to Perrottet. Since its conception, the program has racked up $4 billion in debt and become embroiled in scandal.
The NSW Generations Fund is another venture of Perrottet’s that has been heavily criticised. The fund opened at the end of 2018, aimed at “lowering the debt burden for future generations” through investment. Over $15 billion of the fund’s assets are tied up in stock markets, a move economists have called ‘risky’.
Critics have said the project essentially amounts to using government debt to invest in stocks, and have pointed out the lack of oversight. As a state government project, the fund is not bound to any regulators as banks, super funds, and insurers are.
When the NSW government made the decision to privatise WestConnex, they promised residents of the Inner West that the profits would go towards investments in local infrastructure. But in August, Perrottet announced he had decided to transfer the privatisation profits into the Generations Fund instead. He later backtracked and pledged to put the $11 billion directly into repaying state debt.
Gladys Berejiklian was no angel, but Dominic Perrottet certainly doesn’t promise much better. The wannabe-fundamentalist vibes and sea of controversies he’s seen as Treasurer don’t point to progress for the state. But as many have said, his premiership could make a defeat of the Liberal coalition in 2023’s state election more likely. You win some you lose some, I suppose.
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