Will Malcolm Turnbull make a surprise visit to Kingaroy?
Will Malcolm Turnbull make a surprise visit to Kingaroy?

Turnbull not in race to lead NSW

FORMER Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull had no chance of leading the NSW Coalition to its next election – and there was no reason to believe he wanted to, State Liberal frontbencher and Lennox Head resident Catherine Cusack said.

Ms Cusack, who has previously said she was a friend of Mr Turnbull, yesterday quashed speculation the deposed Federal Opposition Leader might make a bid for NSW Premier.

“Barry O’Farrell (the current NSW Liberal leader) is as safe as houses,” Ms Cusack said.

“Everyone in the parliamentary team is 100 per cent behind him ... he’s a very reliable and focused leader. Everyone knows the problems in this State are difficult and Barry has the focus and discipline we (the residents of NSW) are going to need.”

Speculation about Mr Turnbull’s future erupted after a Galaxy poll this month found new Labor Premier Kristina Keneally was more popular than Mr O’Farrell, even though the Coalition held a broad lead over Labor on a two-party-preferred basis. The poll found 42pc of respondents believed Ms Keneally would make a better Premier, compared to 34pc for Mr O’Farrell. The same poll found 73pc thought Ms Keneally was ‘likeable’.

Adding fuel to the speculation was former NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam’s, whose safe seat of Vaucluse overlaps Mr Turnbull’s Federal seat of Wentworth, announcement he would not contest next year’s NSW election, prompting reports some Liberal insiders were trying to lure Mr Turnbull into State politics.

Mr Turnbull, who had said he planned to examine his future over being ousted as Federal Opposition leader, has so far declined to comment on the speculation.

However, Mr O’Farrell has pointed out Mr Turnbull would have to go through a hotly-contested preselection to win the right to represent the Liberals in Vaucluse, and even then would not have a seat in State Parliament to lead the Opposition before the 2011 poll.

Ms Cusack yesterday said the speculation over Mr Turnbull and Mr O’Farrell had been generated within the Sydney media and had never been discussed within the State Liberal Party.

While saying the party always wanted more good people, Ms Cusack said the Liberals already had some ‘heavy hitters’, such as former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward, and there was no reason to believe Mr Turnbull would be interested in the move.

“I can’t see him as a backbencher,” Ms Cusack said. “I personally really doubt it.”



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