NSW Election Newsletter – Issue 1
2 March 2015
The NSW State Election campaign will officially kick off on Friday when the Government enters caretaker mode. Although the major parties have been in campaign mode since early in the new year and the election is just over three weeks’ away, NSW politics has been over-shadowed by federal leadership speculation and an historic Labor election win in Queensland last month.
While the electorate may just be waking up to the impending election, the major parties are ready, with their respective leaders, Premier Mike Baird and newly minted Opposition Leader Luke Foley, gearing up for what has been described as a referendum on the partial privatisation of the state’s electricity distribution assets or “poles and wires”.
The Coalition Government, under the stewardship of Premier Baird, has been on the hustings in recent weeks announcing how it will invest the anticipated $20 billion proceeds from the long-term lease of the electricity assets, if re-elected. The sales pitch seeks to offset an anti-privatisation sentiment evident in some parts of the community that the Labor Opposition, energised by a new leader and buoyed by ALP wins in Victoria and Queensland, hopes to exploit.
With Luke Foley currently occupying an upper house seat in NSW Parliament, the two leaders went head-to-head in a debate for the first time on Friday at a NSW Business Chamber pre-election debate. While no clear winner was announced, Labor seized on the Premier’s comments from the debate that there is ‘no plan B’ if the Government is returned but fails to progress its asset leasing plan legislation through Parliament’s upper house. The Coalition meanwhile has criticised Labor’s self-described modest infrastructure plan, saying it will do nothing to address transport and congestion issues in Sydney.
The latest Newspoll published over the weekend has the Coalition leading Labor 54 to 48 per cent in the two-party-preferred vote. The Opposition needs to pick up 24 seats to form Government in its own right, which represents a 15 per cent swing across the State. On current polling, a swing of between 8 and 11 per cent is indicated.
While the NSW Coalition is yet to officially launch its campaign, the Coalition’s campaign slogans are “Keep NSW Working” and “Back Baird”. The economy in NSW has been performing well in the past four years, Government debt is down and the State Budget has all but made its way back to surplus.
NSW Labor launched its campaign over the weekend and will be pushing for “a new approach”. The aim is not only to provide a viable alternative to the electorate but to distance itself from the legacy of the previous Labor Government, so convincingly defeated four years ago. While Luke Foley is new to most in the community, he has been Labor’s stand-out performer in Opposition and is well known in political circles.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has inflicted damage to both of the major parties, not least of which was the loss of a first-term Premier – time will tell whether there is more pain to come, with the final ICAC reports yet to be delivered and voters yet to be given the opportunity to deliver their verdict.