And stay out - long bell shuts State Parliament

| 26.06,09. 03:32 PM |

And stay out - long bell shuts State Parliament

June 26, 2009 12:00am

PREMIER Nathan Rees is facing another test of his leadership with the threatened blocking of his $600 million Lotteries sale and a revolt by senior agency chiefs over his Budget plans to merge 160 agencies into 13.

In a bizarre order, which will leave Parliament in limbo for two months, the Government's leader of business in the Upper House, Tony Kelly, literally ran from the chamber in the early hours of yesterday, sparking the lockdown of the Legislative Council.

Using a tactic not tried since the NSW Upper House was created in 1824, to avoid cross benchers and the Opposition voting down the sale, Mr Kelly's panic move prompted a "long bell" adjournment of the house, cancelling the last sitting day before a two-month winter break.

But the Opposition claimed the lockdown was used to avoid a motion that would force the Government to reveal all documents related to Mr Rees' sacking of Tony Stewart last year over allegations he abused a staffer.

"(Rees) has basically lost control of the parliament," a senior Government source said. "It is an embarrassment."

The Daily Telegraph has also learned that Mr Rees is facing a separate crisis within the ranks of his most senior public servants, with department heads and CEOs now in revolt over his budget plans to cut the number of Government agencies and departments.

The Director General of the Premier and Cabinet office John Lee has been forced to cancel an important meeting of all agency and department heads on July 5 to avoid a showdown with agency chiefs over the restructure.

The email said the meeting had been cancelled and would be reconvened "at a later date" but agency bosses are furious they had not been consulted about the changes before it was announced in the Budget. Some of Mr Rees' own Cabinet are also furious at not being consulted.

"The department heads are in revolt," a Government source said. "And they are being egged on by their ministers."


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