NSW Election 2023: Campaign Insights & Analysis Issue 2
Issue 2, 8 March 2023
Campaigning has officially begun for the NSW State Election, scheduled to be held on Saturday, 25 March 2023. Nominations for pre-selection close today and pre-poll voting will begin on Saturday 18 March, which will run for a week before the official Election day.
With 16 days until the Election, the campaign has been characterised by a focus on cost of living, privatisation, education and health.
This is the second NSW Election newsletter distributed by GRACosway, and features analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling, and other political developments. View Issue 1 here.
The Campaign Trail
On Sunday, the Labor Party launched its Election campaign in Hurstville, where Leader Chris Minns was accompanied by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and pitched (paywall) to voters that “Labor is ready, and this state is ready for a fresh start.” Mr Minns focused on the core themes of anti-privatisation, health, schools and jobs, and used the platform to announce new funding policies in relation to health and education.
Meanwhile, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced part of the Coalition’s plan for hospitals when he visited Rhodes on Saturday and revealed a $1.2 billion commitment to upgrade 20 hospitals and health facilities across NSW, which includes $260 million for stage two of the Concord Hospital redevelopment. The Premier also spent time in the Northern Rivers over the weekend, visiting Ballina and Lismore to mark the anniversary of the floods.
Late last week, both leaders appeared in Rosehill at the Daily Telegraph’s Future Western Sydney Summit where they discussed their visions for the region. At the event, Mr Minns confirmed he will pause the proposed Great Western Highway tunnel project and divert the funds to $1.1 billion of road spending in Western Sydney and Regional NSW. Meanwhile, Mr Perrottet announced a new policy to enable small businesses to receive rebates of up to $1,000 to support costs over two years.
Other significant announcements this week included the Labor Party’s commitment (paywall) to not privatise the Sydney Western Harbour Tunnel and retain it in “public hands”, while the Coalition pledged (paywall) to accelerate the rollout of its pre-kindergarten education policy by committing $1 billion to commence the construction on 500 new preschools this year. The Labor Party also announced (paywall) it would reduce the number of senior public servants by 15 per cent and freeze their pay, which the Coalition promised (paywall) to match.
In what is viewed as a tight election race, there was discussion about possible agreements in the event of a hung parliament this week. The Opposition Leader confirmed (paywall) he would not side with Independent Kiama MP Gareth Ward in the event of a hung parliament. Mr Minns added the party would “go further” and “not preference him”, calling on Mr Perrottet to take a similar approach. On Monday, Mr Perrottet affirmed (paywall) his position that Mr Ward should stay suspended from parliament while he is facing charges of sexual assault. However, Mr Perrottet has maintained his confidence in returning a win for the Liberal Party in Ward’s electorate of Kiama, claiming (paywall) on Friday “we’re going to win Kiama”, with Liberal candidate Melanie Gibbons, former Member for Holsworthy, confirming yesterday that she will contest the seat.
Elsewhere, NSW One Nation Leader Mark Latham confirmed that at least 20 candidates would run in the State Election, with nine candidates already introduced for Western and Southwest Sydney.
- $670 million Emergency Road Repair Fund to support (paywall) regional road upgrades.
- $93.7 million to hire an additional 1,000 apprentices and trainees in state government-owned agencies by 2026, such as Sydney Water, Essential Energy and National Parks.
- $76 million study subsidy policy for 2,000 healthcare students per year to support doctors, nurses, paramedics, and allied health workers who commit to working at least five years in the public health system.
- $70 million to construct three new regional and rural helicopter ambulance bases across the state to reduce emergency wait times.
- Establish a Georges River Koala National Park in Campbelltown by transferring public lands to the national parks service to support the protection of endangered koalas.
- $15.3 million to reopen and expand the Currawarna Aged Care facility in Bombala.
- $10 million to upgrade sections of road corridors in Sydney’s east, targeting Bondi Road, New South Head Road and Old South Head Road.
- $7 million in research grants to support treatment improvements for women with ovarian and other gynecological cancers.
- $5 million to extend the upgrade of Our Lady of Lebanon Harris Park precinct, as well as a $100,000 investment to the Maronite community members within the area.
- Introduce a 10-year partnership between NSW Government and religious communities to ensure improved safety for schools by reducing racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination.
- Establish a new conduct framework for local NSW councils to improve integrity and accountability for council officials.
- Commence the Active Kids and Creative Kids voucher swap scheme in Term 2 to reduce cost of living pressures on families.
- Introduce a rental reform package, including replacing ‘no-grounds eviction’ with a ‘reasonable grounds’ model, extending notice periods and establish a rental bond rollover scheme.
Seats in the Spotlight
This week we focus on the independents running for election in NSW in key seats, including Teal independents whose electorates are all currently Liberal-held. With the current government already governing in minority and a number of high-profile Independents contesting the Election, we may see a higher-than-usual number of independents elected to Parliament.
Note: unlike in Federal Government, NSW has an optional preferential voting system which is generally considered disadvantageous to independents. All figures are sourced from ABC psephologist Antony Green’s calculations.
- Murray (2.8 per cent Independent) covers areas along the Murray River, including Deniliquin, Griffith, Hay, and Wentworth. The incumbent is Independent Helen Dalton MP who was a former Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers member, having resigned from the party in 2022. Local Mayor, Peta Betts will contest the seat on behalf of the National Party.
- Willoughby (3.3 per cent Liberal) is a north shore electorate, represented by Liberal member Tim James, who won at the 2021 by-election following the resignation of former Premier Gladys Berejiklian. James will be up against Teal Independent Larissa Penn who previously ran in the 2021 by-election.
- Barwon (6.6 per cent Independent) is an electorate in north-west NSW which covers 44.5 per cent of the state, including Narrabri, and extends west to the South Australian border. Whilst traditionally a safe Nationals seat, the electorate is currently held by former Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Roy Butler who became an independent following a previous fallout within the party. Annette Turner, former head of the NSW Country Women’s Association is the National Party Candidate.
- North Shore (11.1 per cent Liberal) covers areas including all of the Mosman Council and the southern section of the North Sydney Council. The incumbent MP is Felicity Wilson who initially won in a 2017 by-election, and is up against Teal Independent Helen Conway.
- Kiama (12.0 per cent Independent) is in the southern Illawarra district of NSW, covering the Kiama Council area extending down to the Shoalhaven River, and currently held by Independent incumbent Gareth Ward. While formerly a Liberal MP, Mr Ward became an independent after he was removed from the Liberal Party following historic sexual assault charges being laid against him. He is running as an independent in this year’s Election. Former Liberal MP for Holsworthy Melanie Gibbons, who failed to gain pre-selection in her seat, will contest Kiama on behalf of the Liberal Party.
- Manly (12.9 per cent Liberal) is an electorate in the southern end of the Northern Beaches Council, covering Dee Why Lagoon down to North Head. The seat is represented by Liberal James Griffin who won in a 2017 by-election, following the resignation of former Premier Mike Baird. While a safe Liberal seat, Manly has a history of being held by independents between 1991 and 2007, and is this year being contested by Teal Independent Joeline Hackman.
- Wakehurst (21.8 per cent Liberal) is a Northern Beaches electorate currently held by outgoing Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Toby Williams, a lifelong resident of the Northern Beaches will contest the seat for the Liberal Party. Generally, a very safe Liberal seat, Wakehurst is in focus due to Minister Hazzard’s retirement and is being contested by candidate Michael Regan who is the former Northern Beaches Mayor.
This is the second edition of our New South Wales Election 2023 newsletter series, featuring analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling and other political developments. For more information about the Election, or to enquire about our services in New South Wales, please contact a senior member of our team on the details below or our Sydney office on +61 2 8353 0400 or at [email protected].
Jaimi Greenspan, Director – Public Affairs
M: +61 432 590 193
E: [email protected]
Kirsten Mulley, CEO
M: +61 408 476 470
E: [email protected]