NSW PREMIER MIKE BAIRD is set to be convincingly re-elected today, with final opinion polls suggesting a ten-point advantage over the ALP after preferences; Newspoll — published in The Australian — reinforces a trend of slight movement away from Labor picked up by a Galaxy poll yesterday, and the consistency of polling suggests an easy win for the Coalition that will provide both the Liberal Party and the ALP with much to ponder federally.
I am going to try to keep this brief, as I have a Liberal Party State Council meeting to attend in Melbourne this morning and I am going to have to get my skates on; with polls opening in NSW shortly and the final (much-awaited) Newspoll now released it’s prudent to make a few remarks about the outcome of today’s state election.
As I noted yesterday, the trend (to the extent there has been one) in NSW polling over the past month or so has seen a slight firming of support for Mike Baird’s Coalition government, with Galaxy’s final findings suggesting a 54-46 margin after preferences, which in turn widened the projected margin of victory from 53-47 results recorded earlier on; today’s Newspoll continues and reinforces the theme, and shows the government ahead by a 55-45 margin and set for an easy state election win.
Readers can access the final Newspoll results here.
It does rather seem that unlike its counterparts in Victoria and New South Wales, the NSW Liberal Party is not going to be forced into the kind of post-election recriminations and involuntary restructuring that now awaits its northern and southern siblings: and it is, to an extent, ironic that the State Council I am going to today will formalise a sweeping overhaul of the party’s elected executive in Victoria, with powerbroker and strategist Michael Kroger to return as state President unopposed in a sorely needed restoration of some real political nous to the division.
It is true the NSW branch has its problems; even so, it is perhaps a tribute to the party’s state director, Tony Nutt — a “Mr Fixit” in the party, who has doubled as the campaign manager for the NSW Coalition — that in spite of whatever obstacles these, and the so-called “Abbott factor” might pose, NSW will continue to be governed strongly by the Liberal Party and in the kind of shape most incoming governments will kill to enjoy at a first-up election win.
Yesterday I noted the numbers polling had produced suggested a win for the Coalition of between 50 and 55 of the 93 lower house seats in NSW, and barring some late and undetected movement that appears out of nowhere, today’s Newspoll — reinforcing both the general quantum of Coalition support and the ongoing mild trend toward the Coalition as the campaign has progressed — makes me think the government’s tally will be nearer the upper end of that range.
For a little perspective, if the Coalition wins 53 or 54 seats, it would compare favourably with the landslide result that swept Nick Greiner to office in 1988 with 59 of the (then) 109 lower house seats; for the ALP — which one might expect to emerge with perhaps 35-37 seats — the result would be only incrementally better than the 31 seats the Coalition held onto in the big Labor win over Kerry Chikarovski in 1999.
Newspoll’s findings, as readers will see, almost perfectly match those identified by Galaxy yesterday.
But Labor has squandered a big opportunity to punch Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the nose again today, for prior to the ill-advised and insidiously race-tinged “fear” campaign it embarked upon over electricity asset leasing, the numbers had hovered dangerously close to the point at which Baird’s government faced the real risk of being forced into minority.
Its leader, Luke Foley, is likely to survive, at least in the sort to medium term; yet after the likely defeat he is going to suffer tonight, it is impossible to imagine he will lead the ALP at the subsequent state election due in 2019.
Foley (as most observers expected, including me) has prosecuted an irresponsible election campaign that tugged a forelock to the union warlords who dictate what the ALP says and does these days; the central issue of the election campaign — Baird’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets to generate funds for infrastructure and development — posed a test that the Labor leader has failed, and failed badly.
The appeal to anti-Asian prejudices as a pretext to elect the ALP deserves to be answered with the scorn and contempt of the hefty electoral loss it appears certain to elicit.
And as simply another cardboard cut-out yes man prepared to do and say anything the unions want him to, Foley is hardly positioned to offer NSW voters an exciting alternative at this election or, indeed, at any other.
It remains to be seen just how comprehensive Baird’s win today will be, and in some respects the real contest is for control of the state’s upper house, where the government needs to make gains in the seats last elected in 2007 to make control of both houses a realistic prospect.
But either way, the instant trigger for another move against Abbott in the federal party room is not going to materialise from this election in the form of the loss of another Liberal state government.
The federal Liberals, of course, face their own challenges in the months ahead; not least on account of the looming budget in May. Anything, of course, could result from this, and as I have consistently opined, last year’s shocker inspires little faith that this year’s effort will be any better, and it disturbs me that in “resetting his government neither of the two most glaring problems — Chief of Staff Peta Credlin and Treasurer Joe Hockey — were removed.
On the latter, Hockey will probably get the breathing room he needs to make it as far as his very last chance as Treasurer to turn in a budget that addresses both the ballooning debt and deficit quagmire bequeathed by Labor, and the Coalition’s own political needs: if he is as good as Abbott continues to insist, all I can say is that based on last year’s effort there can only be upside for the government in this regard should Hockey deliver something of real value for once.
But on the former, I am encouraged that Nutt is said to be returning to Canberra after this election in what seems to be at least the partial assumption of Credlin’s duties; anything that diminishes the presence and influence of to ubiquitous Credlin can only be a good thing, and right now Nutt is one of the few senior advisers in the Coalition’s ranks with a sound record of achievement wherever he has been deployed by the Liberals: a reputation that can only be enhanced by the successful oversight and navigation of what presented as a surprisingly difficult state election when it should, of course, been a walkover from the beginning.
Anyhow, I said this morning’s post would be brief: some final remarks ahead of what should be a very strong re-election showing by the Coalition in NSW, and whilst surprises can always materialise where votes and voters are concerned, the nightmare scenario of a repeat of the NSW Liberals’ 1991 debacle appears, happily, not to be in prospect in any way today.
I will of course be watching Antony Green’s analysis of the count tonight — beer, red wine and pizza are something of an election night trifecta in my house on state election nights — and may post again late in the evening or the Sunday small hours but either way, I am certain the Coalition will win this election and win it strongly, the natural correction that was always going to happen after a one-sided walloping four years ago notwithstanding.