John Barilaro backed as NSW Nationals leader after first party room meeting since koala stoush

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The NSW Nationals have backed leader John Barilaro at the first Coalition party room meeting since his threat to move to the crossbench.

Mr Barilaro emerged from the meeting flanked by his senior ministers.

The ABC understands Mr Barilaro acknowledged the Coalition agreement stands but made no mention in the meeting of the koala policy which trigged the crisis last week.

Mr Barilaro and his Nationals colleagues threatened to sit on the crossbench and pull support of Government legislation in protest over a proposed regulation which aims to protect koala habitat

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called their bluff, and said they had to resign from their ministerial positions if they were to sit on the crossbench.

When asked what happened in the party room meeting today, the Premier was tight-lipped.

“We never disclose what happens behind those closed doors, that has always been my position,” she said.

“We need to put last week behind us, we need to work hard together and move forward; our state is relying on us.”

A woman holding a mobile phone up to her ear waves through a car window.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to disclose what was said in the meeting.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Prior to the joint party room, the Nationals held their own meeting where the majority of MPs backed Mr Barilaro’s leadership.

Labor is planning to move a motion of no confidence in Mr Barilaro in the lower house this afternoon.

The Premier has indicated Liberal MPs will vote against the motion, despite some of her ministers publicly attacking Mr Barilaro over the past few days.

“I don’t need to give an instruction, it goes without saying that we all support each other,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The koala policy will be debated during a Cabinet meeting in the next month.

The new regulations effectively mean farmers have to jump through more hoops if they want to clear land.

Mr Barilaro argues it’s a “nail in the coffin for farmers” while the Nature Conservation Council argues it will ensure “koalas don’t become extinct”.

Some National backbenchers are still considering moving to the crossbench if their demands to change the policy aren’t met.

There have been six months of behind-closed-doors negotiations between Mr Barilaro, Ms Berejiklian and Planning Minister Rob Stokes over the controversial policy.

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