Outspoken NSW Liberal MP Catherine Cusack has withdrawn her threats to move to the crossbench, but is standing by her criticism of Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Cabinet appointments.
Late on Wednesday night, Ms Cusack sent a furious email to Ms Berejiklian criticising her ministerial line-up, saying it was based on factions rather than merit.
“If you say one more time that the Cabinet is based on merit, I will resign from the Liberal Party,” Ms Cusack wrote in the email.
The Upper House MP, who yesterday quit as parliamentary secretary, said she now regretted sending the damning email, calling it a huge error of judgement. But she said she stood by her comments about Don Harwin being selected as the state’s new energy minister.
Ms Cusack, who was parliamentary secretary for education and the Hunter, was particularly critical of Mr Harwin, suggesting he was not up to the task.
“We are working with Don’s dreadful performance — as you know he is no orator, he is easily flustered, he is wafer-thin-skinned and this is all resulting in gross embarrassment in the Upper House, not that the Lower House cares,” she wrote.
Ms Cusack said Mr Harwin’s appointment was based on friendship, not merit.
The ABC contacted Mr Harwin about Ms Cusack’s criticisms but he declined to comment.
State Opposition Leader Luke Foley said Ms Cusack spoke the truth in her email, particularly in her criticism of Mr Harwin.
“Don Harwin’s not up to it, we have a crisis around energy generation in the hottest of summers, he was nowhere to be seen other than to tell people to turn the temperature up in their refrigerators,” he said.
“He’s a backroom boy, he’s a numbers man for Gladys Berejiklian, he shouldn’t have been elevated to cabinet office.”
The email expressed Ms Cusack’s anger about the fact Ms Berejiklian, NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman, Environment and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton, Transport Minister Andrew Constance and Education Minister Rob Stokes did not attend a meeting of party moderates.
Ms Berejiklian yesterday issued a one-line statement accepting Ms Cusack’s resignation, which said: “I have this afternoon accepted the offer of resignation from Catherine Cusack MLC as Parliamentary Secretary.”
Ms Cusack also issued a statement, which said: “All I want to do is apologise to all the people I have let down.”