One Liberal’s bizarre attempt to install Barry O’Farrell as the next premier of New South Wales — the one standing down, that is — has come to nothing. Treasurer Mike Baird will be the next leader, with Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian falling in behind as deputy on his ticket (that role, at least, will be contested later today). A hasty, mostly bloodless transition of power.

And so the state will quickly move on, and hopefully forward. Baird inherits a reform agenda far from complete; the O’Farrell blueprint will direct the party for the years ahead.

But Liberals — in Canberra as much as in Macquarie Street — can’t sweep this all under the carpet. As Bernard Keane writes:

“If federal Liberals and their media cheerleaders think these sorts of links between party officials, donors, former ministers, former staffers, lobbyists and business mates and serving ministers are OK, then they’ll continue to see colleagues, even good, ethical colleagues like O’Farrell, tripped up. Maybe being in the federal sphere, where there are fewer direct opportunities to influence business outcomes compared to state government, has dulled their capacity to see the problems of such deeply incestuous relationships. Or maybe they’re so convinced that business interests and the public interest are indistinguishable that they don’t see the risks of such relationships …”

Act one of Baird’s premiership should be to tighten regulations around political donations and lobbyist interactions even further. Abbott should pay very close attention. Labor’s history of corruption in NSW might be longer, but the current government has far from a clean house.

*For our many sins, we’ll be spending Easter entombed. Enjoy the break, and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey