Nats MP wins plum gig after bitter saga

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Ben Franklin has been elected as NSW upper house president. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Jeremy Piper

Nationals MP Ben Franklin has officially been nominated as the Legislative Council president after a lengthy saga over the plum parliamentary role.

The NSW Nationals Party has been in uproar after Mr Franklin received the backing of NSW Premier Chris Minns, a close friend of and the godfather to one of his children.

The senior parliamentary role means Mr Franklin will be unable to vote on legislation, which effectively reduces the Coalition’s power in the upper house.

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Nationals MP Ben Franklin has been elected as Legislative Council president. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Jeremy Piper
NSW Parliament's 58th Official Opening
Ben Franklin sat away from his National Party colleagues during the first gathering of the NSW parliament. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David Swift

Once elected, Mr Franklin said he would work to become an “independent and impartial umpire” in his role.

“There’s nothing more important than having an independent and impartial umpire for the champer to ensure (this) is upheld,” he said.

Mr Franklin’s nomination as president was significantly delayed after members of the Coalition attempted to nominate every Labor upper house councillors.

The Coalition’s Legislative Council (LC) leader, Damien Tudehope, put forward six nominations for the role alone, including NSW Treasurer Damien Mookhey, Labor’s LC deputy leader John Graham and Labor’s LC leader Penny Sharpe.

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Damien Tudehope nominated multiple Labor MPs for the role. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Adam Yip

However, Mr Franklin was elected president after all the other nominations were declined.

One Nation upper house councillor Rod Roberts was elected as the deputy president, in a move that was unopposed by Labor.

Labor MP Peter Primrose was elected assisting president.

Senior Nationals ‘disappointed’

Prior to Mr Franklin being elected to the role, NSW Nationals deputy leader Bronnie Taylor said she was “disappointed” by his commitment to run.

“We’re a pretty small team – the Nats in the LC. We’re a team and we’re stronger with the more people that we have in that,” she said on Tuesday morning.

“I think for us as the Nats, it’s really, really disappointing with the decision that Ben has made. It’s been a really disappointing process and that is the honest truth.”

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Bronnie Taylor was ‘disappointed’ by Mr Franklin nominating himself for the position. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

Nationals leader toppled after jobs saga

Mr Franklin’s successful nomination follows a leadership spill within the Nationals after he was accused of breaking ranks to secure the high-paid parliamentary job.

Mr Franklin later claimed he had told then leader Paul Toole about the job and he had encouraged him to run.

“I’m frustrated because Paul hasn’t been honest about what took place here,” Mr Franklin told The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday.

“I thought the leader of the party was happy with it, and I was acting under that assumption.”

On Monday, it was confirmed that Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders had been elected as the

NSW Nationals’ new leader.