A bitter battle for the leadership of the NSW Nationals Party is reportedly brewing over accusations a Nationals MP was considering breaking ranks to secure a high-paid parliamentary job.
Last week, upper house MP Ben Franklin was blasted by senior Coalition members after reports he was planning on nominating himself for the role of president of the Legislative Council.
Mr Franklin later claimed he had told Nationals leader Paul Toole and said he encouraged him to run.
“I’m frustrated because Paul hasn’t been honest about what took place here,” Mr Franklin told Nine Newspapers on Monday.
“I thought the leader of the party was happy with it, and I was acting under that assumption.”
NSW Nationals leader Paul Toole is reportedly facing a leadership spill on Monday afternoon. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard
Hours later, 2GB host Ray Hadley reported that Mr Toole’s leadership would be challenged at a party room meeting at 2pm on Monday, with Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders named as a potential contender.
“There will be a party spill this afternoon. They can’t have Paul Toole leading the Nationals in NSW,” Hadley said on The Ray Hadley Morning Show.
Mr Saunders and Mr Toole did not respond to requests for comment on Monday morning.
Ben Franklin said he had consulted Mr Toole prior to reports he would nominate himself for the role of president of the Legislative Council. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
Mr Toole previously maintained he had asked Mr Franklin not to run for the position so the MP could retain his vote in the upper house.
He also said the party had moved “a very strong motion” for no Nationals or Liberal Party member to nominate themselves for the position.
“Every person on the floor of the parliament is going to be critical to hold the government to account,” Mr Toole said.
“The community is doing it tough right now and they want to know that the opposition is focusing on them and supporting them with everyday things like cost of living.”
Opposition Leader Mark Speakman told 2GB last week that it was an “act of treachery” for an elected member to “turn their back on those voters”.
Mr Toole only just held on to the leadership in April after the Coalition was booted out of government.