From the Archives, 1992 : Bitter Greiner forced to quit

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald on June 25, 1992

Mr John Fahey is the new Premier after Mr Nick Greiner resigned yesterday following the threat by the three non-aligned Independents to bring down his Government by voting for a motion of no-confidence in it.

Mr Fahey, after securing the Government’s future by gaining the Independents’ agreement, immediately moved to steady the Coalition, racked by 24 months of controversy following the resignation of Dr Terry Metherell.

He said he was determined to ensure that the instability surrounding the Government in his State over the past several weeks disappears, and disappears from this moment. He wanted to move forward to govern the people of this State as we have done throughout the past 4 1/2 years or so, and that we do it with the same drive, the same commitment, the same dedication, and with the same results that have been apparent to everybody in very, very difficult times.

The Minister for the Environment, Mr Moore, also resigned under the ultimatum from the Independents, Mr John Hatton (South Coast), Ms Clover Moore (Bligh) and Dr Peter Macdonald (Manly).

The Minister for Tourism and State Development, Mr Yabsley, who had pledged to resign if Mr Greiner went, also quit.

The Independents insisted that Mr Greiner and Mr Moore resign following the finding of Mr Ian Temby, QC, the head of the ICAC, that they had acted corruptly in the resignation of Dr Metherell and his appointment to a $110,000-a-year Public Service job.

This was despite a Supreme Court appeal against the findings of Mr Temby which is due to begin next Tuesday.

A bitter Mr Greiner resigned under protest. You could imagine my sense of outrage at what does amount to being shot a couple of days before the trial, but nevertheless politics is what it is. he said.

I believed yesterday and I believe now — I believe now — that if the party and the Cabinet had the courage, the right thing to do is in fact to allow the court to take the decision.

Mr Greiner implicitly damned the other two contenders for his job, Mr Bruce Baird and Mr Peter Collins, by saying that Mr Fahey is clearly the best candidate; I think for practical purposes he is the only candidate.

He decided to resign about 8 am yesterday after it became clear that the Independents had not changed their stand, and that his party would not back him in risking a no-confidence motion against the Government.

Mr Greiner indicated that he would spend only a short time on the back bench.

The Liberals met yesterday morning and elected Mr Fahey, the Minister for Industrial Relations, as leader. He received 23 of the 44 votes, beating Mr Collins, the Liberal Party Deputy Leader, who received 11 votes, and Mr Baird, the Minister for Transport, who received 10.

Afterwards, Mr Baird said: The best man won. He was then elected deputy by 24 votes to 7 over the Minister for Justice, Mr Griffiths Mr Collins did not stand.

Mr Collins issued a statement saying: The Government faces a difficult fight to regain the political ascendancy in NSW and the new leadership team has my full support.

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