Renegade MP and Minns' mate wins vote in new NSW parly

·3-min read

Renegade Nationals MP Ben Franklin has been elected president of the NSW upper house, defying his party and handing Chris Minns his first parliamentary win as premier.

The election of Mr Franklin, whose touted nomination led to the downfall of Nationals leader Paul Toole, means it will be easier for Labor to pass legislation, with the government and the coalition deadlocked 15 votes apiece in the 42-seat chamber.

Mr Franklin was elected unopposed after the coalition strung out proceedings by nominating every Labor upper house MP, including Treasurer Daniel Mookhey.

Coalition MPs gave Mr Franklin a frosty reception as he was led to the chair by the government's upper house leader, Penny Sharpe and Legalise Cannabis MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"It is a deeply significant role and I know there has been commentary about it," Mr Franklin said after taking his new seat on Tuesday.

"But there is nothing more important than having an independent and impartial umpire of a chamber to ensure its dignity is upheld and the debate can ensue that is fair to all sides."

His independence might soon be starker with the NSW Nationals' governing body, the Central Council, to consider expelling him for taking on the $315,000 plum job.

The move has weakened the coalition's power in the chamber as the president can only cast his vote to break a deadlock.

Deputy Nationals leader Bronnie Taylor says she beseeched Mr Franklin not to take the job.

"We do feel betrayed and disappointed, and I particularly feel very let down," she told reporters.

The mood was more cheery in the lower house, where independent MP for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper was elected unopposed as speaker, led to the chair by fellow independents Joe McGirr and Alex Greenwich.

The premier endorsed the new speaker, saying he had earned a reputation for integrity and independence since scraping into parliament in 2007 on a margin of just 106 votes.

"I think I can speak for every member in the knowledge that we believe the legislative assembly is in good hands under your stewardship," he told the parliament.

One Nation's Rod Roberts (deputy president) and Labor trio Peter Primrose (assistant president), Sonia Hornery (deputy speaker) and Jason Yat-Sen Li (assistant speaker) were elected unopposed.

Six weeks after bing swept to power, the Minns government will spend its first sitting week making good on election promises to protect water authorities from privatisation and providing relief for stretched NSW renters.

The premier said he would fight for every vote to pursue his agenda despite entering parliament without a majority in either house, but maintain his integrity.

"We can disagree without being disagreeable with each other," he told parliament.

"From the government's perspective, we approach this parliamentary sitting with humility and purpose.

"We have to make the case to this parliament to get our legislative agenda through and I want to make that pledge to all members."

Labor will introduce a bill to reform the state's rental sector including the establishment of a rental commissioner, a statewide portable bond scheme and banning secret rental bidding.

Average weekly rents are up 10.1 per cent or $53 in the past year, partly led by surges of 13 per cent in Sydney and Perth.

The average Sydney house tenant is paying $66 extra a week while unit tenants are forking out an average of $105 more.