Members of the Morrison government are throwing their full support behind former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to run for federal parliament months after stepping down over a corruption probe.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, prime minister Scott Morrison gave his full-throated endorsement for Ms Berejiklian to run for the seat of Warringah in the northern beaches of Sydney, saying the ongoing investigation of her by the state Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was "awful" and "shameful".
Ms Berejiklian stands accused of breaching the public trust by funnelling millions in taxpayer money to the electorate of her then secret romantic partner Daryl MaGuire, who was a state MP at the time.
Despite the findings of the investigation still pending, the federal government is now publicly courting the former premier.
"I think she would be great. The way that Gladys Berejiklian has been treated has been shameful," Mr Morrison said this morning.
"She will make her own decision in her own time ... If she wished to join our team, she would be very welcome. I have no doubt that whatever Gladys sets her mind to, she will be a great success.
"I think this is a great opportunity, if Gladys wishes to run, but that is up to her.
"She is a person of great integrity. If she wants to have a crack at Warringah for the Liberal Party, I suspect the people would welcome that in Warringah. We will let the people decide."
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, nominations for the seat have been pushed back to January 14 specifically to give Ms Berejiklian more time to weigh up her options.
'The push is on' despite integrity issue dogging Morrison government
Mr Morrison's comments came after finance minister Simon Birmingham and environment minister Sussan Ley both welcomed the possibility of Ms Berejiklian joining the team.
"I would love to see Gladys do so but that is entirely a matter for her," Mr Birmingham told ABC News on Monday morning.
The sentiment was later echoed by Ms Ley.
"I think she’ll be an outstanding representative and, you know, there’ll be some steps for her to take and processes to go through. But of course, we’d love to see her in federal parliament," she said.
"The push is on," tweeted her interviewer, ABC journalist Michael Rowland.
The SMH political editor, David Crowe, meanwhile noted that questions of corruption and integrity already dog the Morrison government.
"Corruption is already an election issue thanks to the stalled Commonwealth Integrity Commission bill. Gladys Berejiklian running for Warringah adds jet fuel by making that seat a national issue. Logic says it will not happen. Logic does not always win," he tweeted Monday.
The Morrison government has failed to deliver a national integrity body despite promising one at the last federal election. Since then, a string of scandals, rorts, secret donations and the partisan use of taxpayer money by the Morrison government has only increased public support for an ICAC-style watchdog for federal politics.
A report in August claimed Ms Berejiklian told colleagues that Mr Morrison's behaviour was at times "evil" with her office referring to him as a "bully" who "makes himself look big by trying to make others look small".
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