Baird Quits: NSW Libs’ One Chance To Get It Right

THE RESIGNATION of NSW Premier Mike Baird today was not really unexpected; with several immediate family members gravely ill, Baird’s decision to quit to enable himself to help more is entirely in character. But NSW’s Liberal government — arguably two years from defeat until this morning’s news — now gets one chance to aright itself under a new leader. Either way, the instability that marked 16 years of ALP rule continues apace.

Yet again, the half-finished piece on the Turnbull government is being delayed on account of things that just happen, and yet again, I am going to be circumspect: not through any shortage of time for a change but because really, the political ramifications of today’s change can be well and truly picked apart over the coming few days. It is probably a little more decent, in the circumstances, to keep discussion of those to a minimum.

But the news that NSW Premier Mike Baird has decided to call time on his decade-long career in politics — including three years as Premier — was to be expected; the poor health of his mother and father has not been a secret, and the revelation his sister Julia has relapsed in her cancer battle is very sad indeed.

Whatever people think of Baird, his devotion as a family man is the stuff of legend; a deeply religious man not always comfortable with personal interactions, he has been misrepresented at times as aloof or dour (or as one newspaper piece put it today, “a dictator).

I have consistently argued in this column that MPs of every stripe, love them or loathe them, are human beings first and foremost: and whilst some have sorely tested my inclination to treat them as such, and others proved undeserving of such basic courtesies at all (Bill Shorten, please note) the fact is that bad things happen to people from all walks of life, and our elected representatives are no different.

I wish Baird the very best for a happy and healthy retirement from public life, and I hope he enjoys the extra time he has to spend with his kids (you don’t need to be in politics to have too little of that). He can walk away knowing that despite the political difficulties that have lately engulfed it, he was jointly the leader of a government that over six years has restored NSW (and Sydney in particular) to the position NSW people believe they should occupy as the drivers of Australia’s economy and the engine room of the country’s growth.

(I could say something viciously parochial as a ferociously proud Melburnian about everything that is wrong with Sydney, but I won’t. This time).

It is always upsetting when elderly relatives enter declining health, and in this sense — with parents only slightly younger than Baird’s — I both sympathise and can relate. Bruce Baird (again, agree or disagree with his political views) was, like his son, a gentleman of politics, and widely liked throughout the Liberal Party. Clearly I know nothing of Baird’s mum, but to have both parents seriously ill simultaneously is a cruel blow.

Add in his sister too, and the Bairds have had more than their fair share of grief to deal with, quite literally.

We wish their family the very best as they work through these very grave health issues.

Despite the successes the NSW Coalition is able to point to in terms of outcomes, it has also mishandled an adequate number of issues to suggest that provided the opposition Labor Party can get its…self…together, the Liberals’ second term in office might well be its last.

Council amalgamations and the ridiculous attempt to ban greyhound racing — along with stunts like the lockout laws in Kings Cross, which have merely transferred drunken and miscreant behaviour to other parts of Sydney in the wee small hours — have added up, and the Coalition now trails in reputable polling of state voting intent just six years after winning two-thirds of the two-party vote at an election.

To date, there is little to suggest the attempts to fix these mistakes has cut much ice with the NSW electorate.

And whilst the junior Coalition partner, the Nationals, has had three leaders of its own in six years (and lost one of its safest seats anywhere in the country through the Orange By-election), the selection of Baird’s replacement — almost universally anticipated to be the treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian — will signal the seventh Premier of the Premier State in just ten years.

The rotating door on the Premier’s office in Macquarie Street, which spun like crazy during the 16-year tenure of the ALP and was credited as a contributing factor to that party’s demise in 2011, is still revolving now: and it is to be hoped that whoever replaces Baird will, election results permitting, stay in the one spot for at least five to seven years to provide some sorely needed stability.

As I said, however, we will leave the politics of today’s announcement for another time; aside from this brief recap, it’s really not the time to explore these issues thoroughly.

But in closing, I think Baird’s departure buys the NSW Liberals one chance — and one chance only — to aright the ship and retrieve their standing under a new leader.

For reasons that extend well beyond the state’s borders, they had sure as hell better get it right.

Labor Will Expel Martin Ferguson At Its Peril

THE MOVE BY UNIONS and the ALP to expel former ACTU head, Labor MP and minister Martin Ferguson — for no greater crime than attempting to talk sense, and to motivate Labor into the 21st century — will be realised only to the ALP’s detriment; a party that stands for no more than the getting of power on behalf of union thugs, obtained by flagrant dishonesty and reprehensible means, will soon enough have nothing to offer anyone who matters.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this, for it is neither my desire nor my intention to argue the ALP into common sense and sanity.

But the substance of a report appearing in the Fairfax press today throws into stark relief the unfathomable and self-defeating lengths to which the union movement — and by extension, the Labor Party — is prepared to go to safeguard what it appears to believe are its interests even if, as is patently clear to most outside the movement, those “interests” run counter to arguably every other major grouping in the country.

We spoke prior to Saturday’s state election in NSW — convincingly won by the Liberal Party — about the racist scare campaign the ALP mounted over the Baird government’s platform of leasing 49% of the state’s electricity infrastructure to the private sector; the anti-Asian, anti-Chinese bent of this campaign (initiated, unsurprisingly, at the behest of the NSW divisions of militant unions) was thoroughly rejected by voters as it deserved to be, and its backfire upon the Labor Party (whilst unquantifiable) is probably the reason the corrective swing against the Coalition was well under the accepted likely threshold of a minimum of 10%.

That campaign was vociferously opposed by Labor elder statesmen such as Paul Keating and Michael Costa, and with good reason: such a race-based scare campaign is intolerable at the best of times, but for Labor to do it for no better reason than to protect the featherbedded nests of its union masters is reprehensible.

Martin Ferguson’s was one Labor voice among many that expressed unease and/or disgust with NSW Labor’s election tactics, although he has been singled out for special treatment by the unions; Ferguson has committed the cardinal sin of aligning himself with the business community in the eyes of militant unionists, and for this it seems he must pay with the withdrawal of his “privilege” to Labor Party membership.

After the conclusion of his parliamentary career 18 months ago, Ferguson joined a panel that provided advice to lobbyists in the oil and gas sector: in the eyes of the head of the notorious Maritime Union of Australia, Kevin Bracken, Ferguson now “advocates purely for business” and “doesn’t represent any union at all.”

Ferguson was supportive of the privatisation program of the Baird government for the same sound reasons others like Keating were: it would free up funds for infrastructure works (that, incidentally, would provide union labour with thousands of jobs); it would partially divest the state of depreciating assets that in time will be worth no more than the land they sit on, and which will revert to the state anyway; and — and this is the kicker that should sway any politician seeking to curry favour with voters — electricity prices in those states with privatised electricity assets have risen less, and remain comparatively lower, than those states in which full ownership of networks has been retained in state hands.

But Ferguson has gone further, arguing in favour of the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with references the militant CFMEU should be brought to heel — and this seems nearer the mark where unions’ vitriol toward him is concerned, for federal Labor “leader” Bill Shorten combined with the Communist Party Greens earlier this month to scuttle an Abbott government bill that would have held the union movement to the same standards of governance as the business sector.

And the unions — as everyone who refuses to have anything to do with them knows — believe themselves very much a cut above everyone else.

My point is that Ferguson (with an impeccable old-school unionist Labor pedigree, no less) belongs to a small band of old Labor hands who not only see the evolutionary path Labor must take if it is to survive and prosper, but is prepared to stick his neck out to advocate for it.

Throwing him out of the party will achieve nothing — or at least, nothing of benefit to the unions, or to the Labor Party.

Of course the ABCC must be reinstituted, and violent and lawless unions either tamed or deregistered: community standards will not tolerate one set of laws for the 15% of the population that retains trade union membership and another set for the overwhelming majority of the population that is far harsher and more stringent.

Of course the unions’ stand against electricity privatisation, manifested in the disgusting campaign by NSW Labor, was wrong: let’s just forget about its racist foundations for a moment, although that’s bad enough. At root, this campaign was aimed at inflicting higher energy prices on the NSW public to preserve the sinecure of a handful of union officials. There is no justification whatsoever for embedding such a position within the platform of a major political party in a democratic context.

But more than anything, the union movement has shown again that it is rooted in a past that no longer exists; if, that is, it should have ever existed at all.

A movement representing 15% of the working-age population has neither the moral nor numerical right to control or dictate to the other 85%.

There is no justification for the union movement to be treated any differently to business and commercial entities.

It is an irony of sorts that Ferguson’s involvement with lobbyists of any description should be the pretext for the unions’ moves to have him thrown out of the Labor Party when the unions, too, are no more than lobbyists themselves (or at least, that’s the theory).

And it is a further irony that they should rail against Ferguson’s involvement with business — which provides all of the jobs unions so lovingly profess to provide representation for — when there is ample evidence that by its actions, its tactics and their outcomes, the union movement is the single largest destroyer of employment and livelihoods in this country.

Any cursory study of the car industry is sufficient to substantiate the point.

I could go on, but this much is clear: Ferguson, like a small number of his ilk, can see exactly what is wrong with the union movement and the ALP, where they need to change, and how they must adapt if they are to carry any relevance whatsoever in the Australia of the 21st century.

If all Labor has to work with are lying scare campaigns, bigotry, and the personal vilification and crucifixion of opponents such as Tony Abbott for no other reason than they are a recognisable threat, then it has nothing to offer to those who really matter: the men and women of Australia who elect governments, and who depend on the outcomes they deliver.

Already, the parliamentary ranks of the ALP across the country are far too heavily skewed toward union hacks and other self-interested leeches who are happy to gather and concentrate power in their own hands, but who exhibit scant and cavalier regard for those they expect will deliver it to them.

Soon enough — if Ferguson is expelled, and as others like him depart voluntarily or otherwise, out of disillusion or sheer disgust — Labor will have nobody left to fortify it with reason, or substance, or a perspective that is in any way meaningful.

If the ALP succumbs to the decree of its union masters and expels Ferguson from its ranks, it will do so at its peril: and if the unions, with or without the collusion and complicity of their stooges in the Labor Party, continue on the kind of course they have embarked upon in this instance, they will do so to their great — and perhaps terminal — cost.

Newspoll Confirms Thumping Liberal Win In NSW

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.

 

NSW: Racist Labor Campaign Steers Baird To Certain Win

THE BRAZENLY RACIST campaign deployed by the ALP in New South Wales — attempting to frighten voters about Chinese investment in the state’s utility assets, and appealing to base human prejudice — is rightly set to explode in Labor’s face, with Premier Mike Baird now certain of victory in tomorrow’s state election. It terminates Labor’s slender hope for a cheeky election win, and should bring questions over Labor’s methods into open question.

Say anything to win an election:” when it comes to perceptions of politics and politicians, this dubious “principle” ranks near the top of any list of voters’ gripes about the people who govern them, but in recent times the practice of telling the electorate literally anything to accrue votes — with scant regard for the responsibility, accuracy or decency of such statements — has underpinned a ballooning proportion of Labor’s communications with the voting public.

Now, it seems set to cost them.

NSW Premier Mike Baird can go to the polls tomorrow assured of victory, barring some cataclysmic unforeseen disaster today; in the wake of NSW Labor’s idiotic and reprehensible attempt to damage the Coalition with suggestions Chinese participation in the government’s asset leasing program would compromise national security and drive up electricity prices, the latest Galaxy poll for the Daily Telegraph has found the government’s final standing rests at a 55-45 lead over the ALP.

Coming after two other polls in the past week showing the Liberals ahead by a 54-46 margin on the two-party measure, the three polls more or less validate each other, and confirm two things: one, that the decline in the state Coalition’s vote over the past year was arrested before it plunged into the electoral red zone of uncertain outcomes; and two, that the NSW Coalition — unlike its LNP counterparts in Queensland in January — has actually widening its lead over Labor by a couple of points during the campaign.

It also means that in the event of an unexpected late Labor surge or the “accentuation” of the swing away from the government by NSW’s optional preferential voting system, the Baird government has a buffer of a couple of points before it can be put at risk of losing its majority (a prospect that comes into play with a 2PPV of less than 53%), whereas the LNP in Queensland fronted up on polling day already well inside this prospective killing zone, with final polls showing it on 51% (in the event, the ALP scored 51.1% in Queensland after preferences).

Galaxy finds Baird preferred as Premier over Labor’s Luke Foley by better than a two-to-one margin, leading on this measure by 53% to 25%, and whilst this measure is historically difficult for opposition leaders to head, Foley’s position in the death throes of this state election campaign compares extremely poorly with similar results from other state Labor leaders in Queensland and Victoria (and even the Liberal Steven Marshall in last year’s ill-fated election in South Australia) ahead of the most recent elections in those states.

Readers can access the Tele‘s breakdown of the Galaxy results here; accounting for the final election polls we’ve seen thus far, it seems a swing of 9-10% against the Coalition is in order, which should see it returned to office with between 50 and 55 of the 93 seats in the NSW lower house. Based on the election result in 2011, it faces voters with a notional 69 seats, the results of a number of by-elections since then notwithstanding.

For Baird and the Liberals, it seems the widely anticipated “Abbott factor” will be at worst insufficient to cruel their electoral prospects, and whilst a portion of the swing against the government will inevitably be ascribed to the unpopularity of the Prime Minister and his government, it won’t be decisive: and unlike the election in Queensland in January, this consideration was really NSW Labor’s only real hope for causing another boilover in yet another Liberal-held state.

Just like the unexpected Newspoll on Monday — coloured as it probably was by NSW state voting intention rubbing off on findings around federal support — a state election win in NSW could provide a fillip for the Abbott government which, if skilfully exploited, could see this week used as the bedrock upon which to mount a sustained political recovery (although with another Hockey budget and the patent risks associated with it coming up, we’re not going down that tangent this morning).

I think — despite its problems, the most obvious of which has been the loss of 10 MPs over donations scandals uncovered at ICAC, including former Premier Barry O’Farrell — that the government deserves to be re-elected tomorrow; after a slow start and especially since Baird took the reins last year, the Coalition has gone some way to repair the mess left in NSW after 16 years of Labor government, and has taken steps to kick-start Australia’s largest state economy after the torpor and dysfunction in which it was left in 2011.

I should be clear, however, that had Labor not made an unbelievably unprincipled slip this week — pandering to racial prejudices over the Baird government’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets — that tomorrow could well have been on track to see a much different outcome, with an incrementally larger swing enough to at least force the Coalition into minority and with it, inflict a rerun of the infamous 1991 result on the conservatives.

I’m not at all surprised Labor has been crass enough to try to fan anti-Chinese sentiment as a way of garnering support; the increasingly amoral campaign methods used by the ALP have been surfing very close to the line insofar as acceptable political conduct is concerned for some time, and arguably crossed it in Victoria last year as militant unionists donned facsimiles of emergency services uniforms to masquerade as ambulance drivers and firefighters (and to harass and bully people into voting Labor at polling booths, no less).

It is a credit to prominent NSW Labor figures such as Paul Keating and Michael Costa that their has been a blunt and unequivocal put-down of Labor’s latest campaign tactic.

The wanton politics of race have no part in a campaign like this — if there was some actual issue that sat squarely in the middle of legitimate community disquiet over actual events and/or actions, it might be different.

But Labor’s talk about security concerns stemming merely from the fact Chinese companies are interested in investment opportunities the asset leasing program will present is tasteless, to say the least.

Perversely — for all its talk of commitment to minorities and the championing of diversity — Labor has shown its true colours, more than willing to brazenly play the race card when political need suits it. It will be interesting indeed to see whether this shifts votes to the Coalition in the seats that house Sydney’s Chinese community, which is the largest in the country.

But really, this seemingly isolated issue is symptomatic of the insidious disease afflicting Labor more widely.

In NSW, it seeks to win votes by fanning anti-Chinese sentiment, and by threatening to cancel the very licences for coal seam gas exploration in the north of the state it issued itself in its last term in office just a few years ago.

In Victoria, it lined up rent-a-crowds composed of union thugs to pretend to be trusted emergency services personnel, in a ruse that worked, although voters in Melbourne are unlikely to fall for it a second time, and voters elsewhere now know what to expect.

Labor graduated to that disgusting ploy from using union members to pose as “sick” patients on hospital trolleys in Melbourne’s Alfred hospital to advance a wage claim.

Federally, Labor prosecutes a fallacious and malicious personal crusade aimed at destroying Abbott not just politically, but personally as well.

It flatly denies the consequences of its mismanagement of federal finances, and spent part of its last term in office setting up the situation wherein exploding residual federal spending steadily worsens a budget deficit to the point it kills off a Liberal government (so Labor itself, presumably, can return to government to wreak even more damage as a bulwark against “next time”).

On and on it goes. Labor will say, and do, literally anything to win office.

As I have always said, Labor cares about power, not people: and happily enough, this shameful flaw in its priorities is set to explode in the party’s face tomorrow.

When the dust from tomorrow’s election has settled, the Liberal Party across Australia will have been charged with a fresh obligation: to stop shadow-boxing and obsessing over risk aversion, and tackle the hideous Labor ogre for what it is: an unprincipled and reprehensible stain on governance prepared to compromise or sell out anything, literally, in the naked lust for power and the indulgence of union cronies whose violent and wanton militancy should have been left in the 1970s where they belong.

Baird deserves his election win tomorrow, and I have no reluctance in providing an unqualified endorsement for a vote for the Liberal and National parties, albeit one that would have been more difficult to make were his predecessor still Premier.

Yet these considerations are based on issues, facts, and the balance of political realities; Labor’s campaign has ended with a racist taunt and a xenophobic smear.

NSW voters should be thankful that the ALP will not be returning to the Treasury benches in Macquarie Street for at least the next four years.

NSW: ALP-Greens Deal A Precondition For Labor Win

FOR A PARTY whose offering is largely predicated on the destruction of the ordered decency of contemporary society, it is ironic the Communist Party Greens should emerge to masquerade as anti-corruption agents; yet such a posture to some extent underpins their lunatic arrangement with NSW Labor as it favours the ALP in Liberal seats touched by ICAC in return for upper house preferences. NSW voters can — and should — just vote “1.”

It is true that we have not spent as much time examining the impending NSW state election — now 10 days away — as I would have liked; between the leadership travails of the federal government and a fairly tight squeeze on the time I have had available to post articles of late, the third election in the eastern states in the space of 15 weeks has inadvertently been “a little neglected.”

And the perception (incorrectly held, in my view) that Premier Mike Baird is coasting toward an easy and thumping win has meant this particular state election has not resonated around the country in the way the bitterly contested contest in Victoria did, or the bated-breath observation directed toward Campbell Newman in Queensland to see how far, and how hard, the LNP was hit by angry, resentful voters.

Yet the NSW Liberals — even more securely ensconced in government than the LNP was in Queensland if measured on its share of the two-party vote, even if this equates to a smaller parliamentary majority — remains vulnerable on 28 March; there are a number of factors that could contrive a narrow Labor win in the Premier State, and these appear to be aligning to what anyone other than a sycophant of the Left ought regard as an alarming degree.

Critical to this equation is the share of the statewide two-party vote required to push Baird’s Coalition government into minority, which past experience (and the NSW electoral boundaries, which lock a huge portion of the Liberal vote into a clutch of seats north of Sydney Harbour) suggests is anything more than 47% for the parties of the Left.

For readers’ interest, the latest electoral pendulum from the ABC’s Antony Green can be viewed here: and note that the ten safest Liberal electorates all sit on or above Sydney’s North Shore.

I make the further observation that the two-party swing to the Coalition four years ago of 16.5% will be reversed to some degree on Saturday week, and whilst the extent of the correction obviously remains an unknown until the votes are counted, the fact opinion polling (to date) suggests an outcome in the vicinity of 53-54% for the Coalition should add some perspective to the huge margins currently buffering the safest government seats on that pendulum, and bearing in mind the Coalition was sent into minority in 1991 with 52.5% of the two-party vote and lost office altogether four years later with 51.8%, the fact this election is going to be close despite the 2011 result should already be accepted as a given.

Much has been made, in mainstream media and elsewhere, of the influence the unpopularity of the Abbott government might exert on the NSW result, and in an echo of the recent state elections in Victoria and Queensland, it seems inescapable that whilst the federal Liberals and the Abbott factor will by no means prove decisive on 28 March, they will nonetheless be “a factor.”

In a mirror image of Queensland Labor’s cynically dishonest anti-privatisation campaign, NSW Labor is running hard against the Baird government’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets — the so-called poles and wires — to generate funds to pay for badly needed investment in infrastructure in Sydney; pandering to prejudices that the divestiture of state assets is “bad” and misleading voters with breathtakingly contemptuous talk of higher power prices in a privatised electricity system that is quickly disproven by even a cursory glance south of the Murray, the ALP’s fight against Baird’s asset leasing program is biting hard — just as the equivalent campaign did for Labor in Queensland.

And in this campaign — in a contrast to 2011 — it is the Liberal Party fighting off the corruption tag rather than Labor, with 10 of its MPs being forced to step aside or leave Parliament altogether after being adversely dealt with in ICAC’s relentless crusade against public wrongdoing, especially where laws around the acceptance and disclosure of election donations from property developers are concerned.

Yet whilst all of this might appear to make for rich and fertile soil for Labor to till, it must first be pulled together: and not least in view of the fact that primary support for the ALP sits in the mid-30% range (albeit roughly 10 percentage points higher than the abominable result it recorded in 2011).

Enter — to the surprise of nobody — the Greens.

The evidence of the Greens’ destructive influence, both over the ALP and over governance generally, is well-known and evidenced, with the most recent example being the notorious “Coalition” between the hard-Left party and the Gillard government, which contributed to the destruction of the last federal Labor government as Labor was forced to do the Greens’ bidding as the price for “control” of the Senate: an arrangement that heavily damaged the ALP, but from which the Greens emerged in comparatively robust shape despite the loss of a couple of percentage points of its support.

This time (and a selection of articles from today’s Sydney press can be accessed here, here and here) the Greens have struck a deal with Labor aimed at securing themselves control of the NSW upper house, for like any party mostly disinclined toward assembling a majority of voter support in single-member lower house electorates, the Greens in NSW are happy with the prospect of playing the wrecker in yet another ghastly, proportionally elected upper house on a comparative sliver of the statewide vote.

Telling, however, is what the Labor Party gets in return: a binding agreement to exchange preferences that is skewed toward the NSW Central Coast — and thus toward Liberal-held seats at the epicentre of ICAC findings against sitting MPs that might seem ripe for the taking — and toward a handful of marginal seats lost by the ALP four years ago that constitute the sort of low-hanging fruit the ALP must harvest first if it is to stand any prospect at all of regaining significant ground in NSW next weekend.

The benefits to the ALP are obvious: provided Greens voters follow the card, the prospect of winning an increased number of seats from the Coalition is enhanced by the deal between the two parties.

But what the Greens stand to receive amounts to yet another eye-popping itinerary of wasteful excess and indulgence: a million dollars for Koalas in Campbelltown. A “koala summit.” The declaration of new national parks that would decimate the fishing and coal seam gas industries, the latter being particularly cynical given it was the last NSW Labor government that granted most of the coal seam gas licences in the north of the state in the first place.

And of course, the retention, in state hands, of NSW’s electricity assets: infrastructure that will decline in value in coming decades as new technologies progressively render it obsolete. The value of the land and the proceeds from asset leasing are arguably worth more to the state than the poles and wires are in the longer term. And of course, NSW consumers would be denied the savings from cheaper electricity, but Labor and the Greens — beholden to unions and incapable of telling the truth — don’t care about that.

It is no coincidence that for the first time in its history, the leadership of the state divisions of the ALP up the eastern seaboard (and elsewhere) is held by the party’s Left faction; in turn, this equates in practical terms to excessive influence and control by the union movement, and especially where militant unions such as the CFMEU are concerned.

An object lesson in the destructive course such a government would likely chart in NSW can be found south of the border in Victoria, where the new-ish Labor government of neophyte Premier and imbecile Daniel Andrews is scuttling infrastructure projects at a ten-figure cost to the state whilst deferring or abandoning other election commitments ostensibly built around the safeguarding of Melbourne’s prized and renowned status as the most liveable city in the world.

Ominously, Andrews has flagged funding future projects in Victoria by ramping up state sector debt: a misadventure tried by Labor in the 1980s, that resulted in the near-bankruptcy of the state.

And the little excursion by unions through Melbourne a couple of weeks ago — supposedly in the name of workers’ rights — was contrived purely for political purposes and aimed squarely at a conservative federal government, and was explicitly sanctioned and tolerated by the new Labor state government.

This is a mere glimpse of what awaits NSW voters if Labor triumphs on 28 March. It is what awaits already in Queensland, as that state’s new Labor regime — also elected on the back of Greens’ preferences in an optional preferential voting system — finds its feet, and flexes its muscles.

NSW voters still have the opportunity to avoid all of this, and those soon to vote who do not wish to see their state held to ransom by the ridiculous whims of the Greens or NSW’s militant and thuggish trade unions have a choice.

“Just Vote ‘1’,” as another Labor figure from the north implored Queenslanders 15 years ago: if there are no preferences distributed there can be no Labor win in NSW, and even those voters angry with the Abbott government and disinclined for whatever reason to see their state’s electricity assets leased to private interests would fare better under a re-elected Baird government than any alternative cobbled together by Labor and the Greens.

 

National View: Cocky, Spiteful Labor Unfit To Govern

AS PRIME MINISTER Tony Abbott has languished, variously, under unpopularity and threats to his leadership, the Labor Party has made hay whilst the sun shone; content merely to spoil, standing for nothing, the ALP has already won office in two states, and a third beckons this month. Devoted only to beating Liberals and getting its union mates into the gravy — and in control — smug, cocky Labor isn’t fit to shovel shit, let alone form government.

I thought Tony Abbott was finished — and he may yet prove to be so; there were and are good reasons for the low opinion poll ratings the Coalition has endured for the past year, and issues theoretically distant from the public gaze (which have nonetheless recently been aired) are responsible in no small measure for driving them down.

I have been delighted at the performance of the Prime Minister and the government over the past week, although it is “early days,” to use the vernacular; but I do not yet believe the polls — storming back toward the government so quickly it should be in front by next week — yet whether they are rogue or representative, it is heartening for now at least to see the Liberal Party competitive, even if that moment proves fleeting in time.

(And I stand by my call for the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin* to be removed, involuntarily if need be; objectively analysed and with more than a few interesting stories forthcoming from a multitude of unfortunate people who have had cause to associate with Ms Credlin directly or indirectly, I remain unconvinced that her new low-profile incarnation is either genuine or durable: best to get rid of her now, before she reverts to type and causes more trouble — and before more of “her way” costs the PM his job).

But it has been a month — exactly a month — since rebel backbench Liberal MPs, alarmed at the direction the Abbott government was taking and driven by what may yet prove to be inevitable electoral defeat, orchestrated a spill attempt against Tony Abbott that the Prime Minister survived by a modest but not decisive margin; this column was more than fair and even-handed about those events (to the chagrin of some in the Liberal Party) but as the smoke clears, a more deserving target is drifting into clearer view.

What a difference a month makes.

Just after the votes from that abortive spill attempt were counted, I published an article in this column suggesting that with the government resetting its compass to move forward (apologies!), the time had arrived to tear to shreds Labor’s so-called “leader,” Bill Shorten, who has been permitted to get away with the political equivalent of blue murder ever since Labor’s rigged leadership selection mechanism saw him ascend to the post in defiance of the overwhelming mood of the ALP membership, which had been duped into believing it had been “enfranchised.”

A quick look around the country suggests that federal Labor isn’t the only iteration of the ALP that leaves a fair bit to be desired, but more on the others shortly.

Shorten Labor — like its state-based cousins — has spent all of the time since the 2013 election waiting: waiting for difficult issues to land in the Abbott government’s lap; waiting for the hostile Senate to savage its legislative program; waiting for it to make mistakes; and waiting for its unpopularity (which exists in no small part due to Labor’s fabricated rantings and vicious abuse of the Prime Minister personally) to rub off in the states, allowing directionless and unprincipled Labor governments to take office, and to wait patiently for what it thinks will be the ultimate result, which as the storyline goes is a Labor win federally next year.

It’s an approach that works well — if your opponent is in complete disarray.

But as the Liberals now regain some momentum, it’s also an approach that can and should lead only to electoral disaster, for a Labor Party that offers no ideas, only moves when the fingers of its union masters wedged up its collective backside twitch, and which can’t even offer basic honesty about the political circumstances Australia finds itself in (or the responsibility Labor bears for mistakes it made between 2007 and 2013) is not fit to govern.

Someone highly familiar with the inner workings of the Abbott government and the strategies that have been pursued to date — if you could call them that — confirmed to me a little while ago that it has been a deliberate approach on the government’s part to ignore Shorten and Labor as much as it could; the idea was to paint the ALP (and the insidious Shorten in particular) as irrelevant, peripheral, and marginalised.

It has been a mistake of some magnitude, and with the Coalition now apparently serious about resetting its operations, this is one target that needs urgent — and incessant — attention.

It may well be that Greens, Palmer people, minor party identities and Independents offer between them a route to having legislation passed that theoretically allows for the bypass of Labor altogether; in practice, this ignores the fact that if Labor were to be co-opted to support at least some bills some of the time, the government would probably have more legislation on the statute books than it already does.

Dealing more directly, and interactively, with the ALP affords that party additional scope to publicly obstruct the government, rather than doing it on the sly away from the view of the voting public: part of Abbott’s perception problems arise from the fact that voters see the chaos going on in Canberra and the only identifiably “responsible” party for it, to them, is the Coalition, when in fact the real issue with deadlock and inertia in the federal Parliament emanates from Labor as much as from the crossbench.

Labor has had a great many fairy stories to sustain itself over the past 18 months; chief among them is the delusion that only itself is the arbiter of what is “fair,” underpinned by an obscenely misplaced conviction that the ALP is the only entity in this country that is entitled to govern it — and a determination, marooned in opposition, to destroy the elected government at any cost.

To some extent, this is purely the nature of opposition: a party to the left of the Speaker can only assume office by getting rid of the other mob.

But there is a balance, and federal Labor’s version — which, despite its insistence that it is only doing “what Abbott did,” is nothing of the sort — involves a complete contempt for the electorate and its wishes, and the willingness to lie and deceive to cover for its own defects and iffy record, which in truth is no more appealing than a bit of used toilet paper.

As opposition leader, it is true that Abbott opposed a great deal of Labor’s measures.

But he also provided bipartisan support and political cover on certain issues (the NDIS is a case in point, albeit one I disagree with vehemently) and he arrived in the Prime Minister’s office with a program of sorts, promising — as everyone knows — to stop the boats, axe the tax, fix the budget, end the waste, and build the roads of the future.

By contrast, Shorten proposes only to abolish the private health insurance rebate — a disastrous idea that would almost certainly cause the quickfire collapse of the healthcare sector in Australia — and, hidden among vague suggestions of “hitting the rich” (a standard ALP dogma nowadays”), a pledge to crack down on “tax avoidance by multinationals,” a notion no government in the Western world has ever worked out how to enact and which, if given form, would almost certainly cause the exit of any companies affected from this country: doing more damage than good, in other words.

So much for Labor’s policies.

Despite the alleged democratisation of the ALP — instituted by decree by Kevin Rudd to save his own bacon in the event he won the 2013 election — all power in the Labor Party continues to reside in the union movement; elections and voters are a mere inconvenience to be tolerated and navigated to secure parliamentary power for the unions and to hold onto it.

If anyone doubts this, they need look no further than the basis for every Labor preselection in the country: all seats, winnable or otherwise, are divided up according to membership of various unions, and determined through a complex web of personal loyalties and fiefdoms that dole out seats in Parliament as rewards. No real talent is required. No clue about the world is needed. The only prerequisite is the ability to do what you’re told. The rest takes care of itself.

It’s how Labor can be “led” by such a frightful specimen as Bill Shorten, a questionable individual with absolutely nothing to offer Australia in any useful capacity.

It’s true he was a very diligent union leader; this is the primary reason he found his way into Parliament at all.

But you wouldn’t trust Shorten as far as you could throw him, as many of his past and present colleagues — to say nothing of two ex-Prime Ministers — nursing knife wounds in the backs of their shoulders would attest to.

It is salient to note that insofar as historic rape allegations against Shorten are concerned, he was not cleared; Police declined to proceed with charges against him due to a lack of evidence, and whilst these two concepts might result in the same outcome — Shorten free to go about his business — they are not necessarily the same thing.

In fact, there are a lot of interesting stories floating around about “Bull Shittin,'” some of which have been aired at the Heydon Commission into the trade union movement.

It may very well be the case that in the end, no charges against Shorten are recommended, and if that is the case, the distinction between “no case to answer” and a “lack of evidence” will be one most observers will quarrel over on which side of Heydon’s conclusions they fall.

But either way, it is indisputable that Labor under Shorten was instrumental during the week in defeating a bill in Parliament that would have subjected unions to the same standards of governance and accountability as the business sector.

Why? What do the unions have to hide? To listen to Shorten (or, in fact, any Labor operative, no matter how menial and/or insignificant), the union movement is the greatest social institution Australia has ever produced. What does it have to hide? Why does it think itself above the law? These are questions Labor, and Shorten, must answer.

But they won’t, for they are simply too busy: too busy obstructing the government of the day, an enterprise that has to date met with virtually no retaliation, and that must change.

Too busy lying to Australians about the criminally negligent manner in which the ALP mismanaged the federal budget when it was last in office; the Global Financial Crisis be buggered.

GFC or no’, Labor still found its way clear to legislate — between Gonski and the NDIS — some $30 billion in annual additional recurrent spending despite the “revenue crisis” Wayne Swan used to bleat about; it has since come to pass that revenue as a proportion of government outgoings has indeed deteriorated, which is why the legislation of an extra $30 billion a year in spending should really be the impetus for prosecutions, not congratulations.

And Labor is too busy lying to people about the motives of the Liberal Party: the dreadful budget delivered last year by Joe Hockey was easily the worst ever delivered by a Liberal Treasurer — the extent of Labor mismanagement notwithstanding — and was, to be blunt, completely unsaleable politically, targeting as it did floating Liberal voters in marginal Coalition electorates.

The federal Coalition might have its problems, but with no policies from the ALP and no moral fibre, a government formed by the Liberal and National Parties is preferable to any proffered by Labor: at least with the Coalition, the offering isn’t founded upon a pathological lie.

And to be honest, the same ALP that railed for decades against the excesses of the likes of Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Bob Askin gives every indication that in its modern form, it aspires to nothing less than a one-party state with itself and its union masters at the helm. After all, election defeats are disregarded with cavalier abandon, and those Liberal governments that find their way into office are attacked in ways that could hardly be construed as reasonable, or even democratic.

The most recent example of this occurred last week, with the so-called “March4” protests an object lesson in Labor’s and the unions’ dedication to their members’ interests; a bystander could be forgiven for thinking it was just an attack on the Liberal Party, because that is all it was.

Bands of lawless thugs spilling onto the streets, disrupting cities for hours in the name of exercising “a right to protest,” this had nothing to do with advancing the lot of those poor bastards who pay their union dues every fortnight; the packs sporting shirts that read “FUCK TONY ABBOTT” and “FLICK THE PRICK” could scarcely have made themselves clearer that whilst they invoked the spectre of their paying members, the only thing that mattered was a political point those members had no direct input into.

I read Piers Akerman’s column in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph yesterday morning, which postulated on what form a Labor government might take if Luke Foley were to triumph over Mike Baird in a few weeks’ time; Labor thinks itself on a roll in the states, augmented and buttressed by the unpopularity of the Abbott government, and it looks north of the Tweed to see an LNP government wiped out on a 14% swing after a single term in the knowledge that less of a two-party movement would see a similar fate befall the Coalition in the Premier State.

Let’s just stop for a second. What does Labor offer any state in Australia as a government?

In Victoria, Daniel Andrews was a one-trick pony who campaigned on the analogy that the Coalition was “a circus;” in this enterprise he was aided by the do-nothing nature of the Baillieu years, and subsequently by the offensive presence of Liberal-cum-Independent Geoff Shaw, who held the Napthine government to ransom through no fault of its own on account of the fraught numbers in the lower house (for those who do not remember there were 44 Coalition MPs, 43 from the ALP, and Shaw).

The only thing Andrews had to work with was the numerical state of the Parliament. What did Napthine do wrong?

Certainly not the East-West road link, announced a year out from a state election (even if the contract was signed nine months later): governments are elected to govern, and the Coalition, after Baillieu’s departure, got on with it.

But Andrews beat Napthine; and despite solemn promises the contract to build this road was “not worth the paper it was printed on,” the Victorian government is now caught between either legislating its way out of the contract — throwing up the real issue of sovereign risk for future investment in infrastructure in Victoria — or paying out $1.2bn in compensation money Andrews swore unequivocally was not due and would not be payable if the road project was cancelled.

Labor tilled the ground by leaking the contents of a stolen dictaphone recording of former Premier Ted Baillieu speaking off the record to a journalist: a piece-of-shit act for which it was never brought to account.

And militant unions like the CFMEU have seen to it, in the few metaphoric minutes Labor has been back in power, that the state’s building code has been repealed — ending, as it were, any redress against thuggy miscreant unions on building sites that would wilfully damage the state’s business and construction interests lest their agenda of control of industry and government be threatened.

The same thing looks likely to happen in Queensland, where Labor — elected in a shock revolt against the excesses of Campbell Newman’s government — pledged to discontinue asset sales; “once they are gone, they are gone forever,” its campaign literature bleated of Newman’s privatisation agenda.

Yet even now — five weeks on — the Queensland government is wriggling around to make a privatisation program possible; Queensland, it must be remembered, remains in more or less the shitty soup Labor left it in three years ago, and whilst the LNP under Newman made great strides in beginning to redress the damage, it appears the Palaszczuk government has realised too late that without the money from privatisation, finishing the reconstruction job will be impossible.

NSW Labor, under Foley, is singing from the same cracked record as Palaszczuk did in opposition on the privatisation of electricity assets, which were central to Newman’s plan to retire a huge chunk of the debt Queensland had been saddled with under 14 years of incompetent Labor mismanagement.

But the common thread in all three states (and the others we haven’t talked about, to be sure) is the use of unions to do Labor’s bidding, and the abject lies not only about what Liberals may or may not be doing, but about the reprehensible damage Labor governments do whenever and wherever they are elected to office anywhere in the country.

Dangerously militant unions like the CFMEU and the ETU lie at the heart of every “successful” ALP campaign in all of these states: their money, their manpower and their agenda are central to the arguments prosecuted, and central to the priorities of whatever government prevails if their efforts are fruitful in electoral terms.

There will be real and adverse consequences for the good burghers in Queensland and Victoria from the ghastly Labor governments that have taken office in those states, and for NSW if Labor somehow manages to triumph there on 28 March.

But it is difficult to fault voters, many of whom still trust what they hear from political parties they remain favourably disposed toward, despite the low regard in which politics generally is held in Australian communities nowadays.

In the final analysis, it is this trust the Labor Party is guiltiest of abusing: bare-faced lying, defaming its opponents, and saying literally anything to win a vote, this incompetent and utterly useless political entity would stand for nothing at all were it not for the irrelevant but lethal union monoliths that prop it up.

Labor might be smug, confronted with a troubled Abbott government that has been more accident-prone than inept: it is difficult, in the federal Coalition’s case, to be convicted of any offence when its bills simply can’t pass the Senate.

And Labor might be cocky, too, watching its poll numbers climb through the roof.

But its spite is without limit, for as much as Labor has spent decades criticising the Liberal Party for a “born to rule” mentality, the odium and rancour it emits when denied the levers of power knows no bounds, and dwarfs anything it ever accused the Liberals of as it pursues a mad lust for power — with a smile on its face, no less, and empty promises of nothing bad.

It’s not much better than the stereotypical paedophile in a park, in a raincoat, with a bag of lollies: so low has modern Labor stooped.

All the Labor Party cares for these days is beating the Liberals and getting the arses of its chosen vessels into green leather chairs — and executing the instructions of its union masters to the letter — and any voter in Australia who thinks differently is either one of its ilk or is deluding themselves.

Make no mistake, whatever the election and to whatever jurisdiction it applies, the Australian Labor Party is not fit to call itself after that great institution it once constituted, and of which ordinary Labor voters should be ashamed.

It stands for nothing more than the path of least electoral resistance: no policies, no agenda (beyond the union movement, that is) and no principle other than the overriding instinct to control things, and to inflict misery on anything or anyone that disagrees with it.

In short, the ALP isn’t fit to shovel shit, let alone merit the privilege of government.

And the sooner Coalition forces around Australia attack it on those terms, the better the country will be for it.

 

LOTS of links, some to articles containing even more links, today: a big multi-faceted subject with a lot of ground to cover that makes retracing a few steps a good idea into the bargain. And plenty of holiday reading and associated “alleyways” to disappear into with the extra day off.

 

*If Peta Credlin would like at any stage to exercise a right of reply and/or to rebut the accusations made against her, this column will faithfully reprint up to 1,000 words submitted by her (subject to my personal verification of their origin): I am even prepared to do so as an image, should such a submission come scanned in a suitable format, to avoid any charge of tampering.

I won’t hold my breath, however, and neither should readers — even if this offer finds its way to Ms Credlin, one of the commonest charges my sources have levelled against her is a complete sense of immunity from criticism or reproach, or admissions of error in any way but the most patronising and insincere. If we hear from Credlin at all, readers will be the first to know.

 

NSW: 11% Poll Swing Puts Baird In The “Newman Zone”

THE PERFECT POLITICAL STORM swirling around the Liberal Party risks engulfing a third state government, with a new Galaxy poll in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph showing an 11% swing against Mike Baird’s administration; the figures put the state Coalition at grave risk of falling into minority status — or worse — and will raise fresh questions around the adverse impact of the Abbott government on the fortunes of the Liberals across the country.

It’s a relatively brief post from me for now, as the renewed demands of a Monday demand my attention elsewhere; I will be posting again later this evening about — you guessed it — the Abbott government and the Prime Minister’s controversial Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, who has attracted an insidious comparison with Margaret Thatcher this morning in another newspaper to the effect she is not for “turning:” the obscenity of likening a politically destructive and jumped-up staffer to the greatest conservative leader of the late 20th century is too offensive to allow to pass without remark, and I simply don’t have time to do justice to the case this morning.

But a story in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph this morning conveys the findings of the latest Galaxy Poll on voting intention for the NSW state election — now just a month away — and its findings of an 11% swing against Mike Baird’s Coalition government would, if replicated, go most of the way toward costing the NSW Liberals the fat parliamentary majority they scored in the landmark 2011 rout of the ALP.

The reason these figures have attracted my attention lies in NSW’s relatively recent political past; it becomes salient to recall that the Greiner government — elected in a landslide in 1988 — was forced into minority in 1991 despite winning 52.5% of the statewide two-party result, and the Coalition lost office altogether four years later under John Fahey in spite of retaining 51.2% of the vote after preferences.

Galaxy’s findings, therefore, of a 53-47 Coalition lead — an 11.2% swing since 2011 — should sound an attack warning siren at NSW Liberal HQ; just like the Newman government in Queensland, they portend a resumption of the gradual leaching away of Coalition support that was certainly interrupted by Baird’s replacement of Barry O’Farrell as Premier, but which perhaps has not been reversed to the extent earlier findings may have suggested or to the extent Liberal Party strategists might have hoped.

An obvious difference between the NSW Liberals and the Queensland LNP is that unlike their northern cousins, NSW’s Liberals boast the most popular leader of any conservative government in the country, and despite Galaxy finding some movement on the measure toward new ALP leader Luke Foley (himself in the traditional “honeymoon phase” of his leadership) Baird remains “preferred Premier” by a thumping 44-26 margin.

But the Galaxy findings — which, if applied and replicated uniformly at an election — suggest that the Coalition is on track to hold 51 seats to Labor’s 39, with three Greens and Independents; given 47 seats are required to win office outright in the 93-seat NSW lower house, it becomes painfully clear that despite his popularity, Premier Mike Baird actually has some very tight parameters to negotiate if he is to secure another term.

With a gaggle of its MPs embroiled in ICAC proceedings — some of whom have already left the Liberal Party and/or Parliament altogether — it is obvious that the Coalition’s edge on the corruption issue over the ALP has been comprehensively squandered: a point of difference that paints the parties in no better light than the party of Eddie Obeid and Ian McDonald that it dislodged from office four years ago.

But there are other disturbing similarities to the result recorded in Queensland last month; like the LNP, the Baird government is running on a controversial platform of privatising the so-called “poles and wires” that comprise NSW’s electricity assets — and this policy, whilst making good sense as a divestiture of assets that will be worth little more than the land they sit on in a couple of decades’ time — has shown its potency as a vote loser in Queensland in February, and in NSW repeatedly since it cost the Coalition dearly at an election decimation in 1999.

Ominous, too, is the fact Labor and the Communist Party Greens appear close to striking a tight statewide preference agreement — a crucial ingredient in working toward any election upset by maximising the number of votes that can be harvested, without exhaustion, under the state’s optional preferential voting system.

And all of this, in turn, casts the spotlight back toward Canberra, and the effect the Abbott government seems likely to continue to exert on the fortunes of yet another Liberal state government.

Preference deals and privatisation programmes should not, in and of themselves, be enough to consign a government with a robust parliamentary majority to either minority or defeat; the corruption issue, whilst an obvious negative, was arguably staunched with the replacement of O’Farrell last year.

And Baird’s popularity should not be underestimated.

But this state election is to be held in a continuing climate of leadership ructions within the federal Liberal Party, and against the backdrop of a deeply and increasingly unpopular federal Liberal government, whose impact on state elections in Queensland and Victoria cannot be described as decisive, but which almost certainly contributed to the Liberal Party’s defeat at both.

With the leadership issue continuing to simmer away — and ample suggestion that anger toward Tony Abbott among his MPs has built rather than subsided since the abortive spill attempt a fortnight ago, accused as he is of reneging on commitments made to remain in office — it seems clear that what is already a likely negative influence on state Liberal support could become an avalanche if any renewed outbreak of hostilities occurs between now and polling day in the Premier State.

This is one poll, and the usual disclaimers on that basis apply.

But we will watch voting trends in NSW with interest; and with the movement remaining so clearly toward Labor, one must wonder whether Baird and his colleagues have already slipped into the “Newman Zone.”

The 1991 and 1995 debacles in NSW take on fresh importance with these numbers, and are a reminder that however badly the Liberals crushed Labor last time, when it comes to a new election four years later, all bets are off.

The Coalition can’t afford to surrender yet another state to Labor in such an embarrassingly short period of time. But from the findings of Galaxy today, even a small additional movement away from the Liberals would risk precisely that.

And for this reason, what we will discuss about Credlin tonight — and the odious spotlight cast upon her in The Australian today — assumes a new and urgent currency.