NSW Election Newsletter – Issue 5
27 March 2015
The recent defeat of two first term Liberal governments in Victoria and Queensland has challenged the long held orthodoxy that all governments are given a second chance. However with the NSW election campaign nearing its end and the election just hours away, Premier Mike Baird has reason to feel increasingly confident. The final poll before the election points to the Government being returned, with Galaxy putting the Coalition at 55 per cent to Labor’s 45 per cent in two-party-preferred terms. If the polls are to be believed, Baird looks set to achieve what has eluded all but one Liberal leader – WA’s Colin Barnett – for the past decade.
The latest poll represents a 9.2 per cent state-wide swing and would see the Coalition losing up to 15 seats. However individual seat polling suggests that the swing will be anything but uniform tomorrow. Labor is reportedly in with a chance in the three rural electorates of Ballina, Lismore and Tweed, all with margins of over 20 per cent, due in large part to community concerns about coal seam gas. Meanwhile, the Coalition is hoping to hang on in the more marginal urban seats of Coogee and Campbelltown, on margins of 8.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively. When counting is finally complete we will likely see a number of new faces on both sides of politics. As for the upper house, a record 394 candidates are fighting it out for 21 important Legislative Council spots – a struggle that could determine the fate of government legislation for the life of the next Parliament.
This sometimes dull campaign has been dominated by three key themes: privatisation, infrastructure and leadership. The Coalition has promised a suite of infrastructure projects, funded from a potential $20 billion if it can successfully lease the ‘poles and wires’. Labor opposes the privatisation, and is promising a sizeable, but more modest, $10 billion infrastructure spend.
On leadership, the Coalition has sought to leverage the popularity of Mike Baird, who has consistently outstripped Luke Foley in the preferred Premier stakes. While Baird is no doubt popular, Labor leader Luke Foley has instead attempted to link NSW politics with Federal politics, stressing the personal connection between Mike Baird and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and repeating that ‘if Mike Baird loses his job on Saturday, Tony Abbott loses his on Monday’. For the Coalition, it has focused on depicting Foley as a ‘learner’ and someone who has never led government.
The final week saw Labor continue to focus on the threat of privatisation and offer up a few last minute announcements, including $270 million for a new Goulburn hospital. In recognition that the Government expects a swing away from its landmark 2011 victory, Mike Baird has this week been reminding voters that a protest vote can, in fact, bring down a government. He was joined in this message by former premiers Nick Greiner and John Fahey, along with former Prime Minister John Howard. The Liberals also announced $300 million over four years for electronic health initiatives, including upgrading electronic medical records.
The final week hasn’t seen any major new money or policy announcements from either party. In a sign that both voters and politicians alike are suffering from campaign fatigue, even One Direction scored an honourable mention this week, with Luke Foley calling on Mike Baird to publicly name his favourite One Direction member; in the end it always comes down to the big issues.