This weekend's papers carry a story about NSW voter intentions, perceptions and perceived issues for the NSW state election on 24 March.
Peter Debnam continues to lack the skills to create a favourable image with NSW voters. He just does not seem to present well in the media. Voter perception is that NSW Premier Morris Iemma is a "good bloke" who isn't responsible for the mistakes and failures of the Labor Government under Bob Carr, presents well in the media, and that he has a much higher rating as preferred Premier that Opposition Leader Peter Debnam. This is the same problem that the Federal Labor Party had when both Simon Crean and Kim Beazley were Federal Opposition Leaders.
State politicians have, in recent elections, loved to run on the Lora Norder (law and order/crime/police numbers) ticket. The published survey rated crime a distant 6th priority, behind Health, Water, Economy, Education and Environmental policies. Mr Iemma, as with previous Premiers, was prepared to make much of the newly attested 750-800 new police graduates that have just started work. Voters are saying that they recognize the politicization of such numbers at the time of elections.
Health, particularly hospitals and numbers of nurses is seen as more important. NSW likes to have university-trained registered nurses because the Federal Government funds the universities, and therefore the training costs. Accordingly there are few state-funded trainee enrolled nurse positions, even though this could alleviate the shortage of nurses quite quickly.
Water is an important issue because Government ministers have said that Sydney people will not drink recycled water. This week Mr Howard (Prime Minister in a Liberal Party government) tried to tell NSW voters that Mr Iemma (Labor Party) or Mr Debnam (Liberal Party) would introduce recycled water after the election. For it's part, the NSW Labor Government said that "we're not at that stage yet" and that a desalination plant would be the first option: a good statement that tries to placate any voter response, but doesn't actually say that they would not introduce recycled water programs.
Whoever wins voters with their water policy will probably win the election.
If neither party can win the hearts and minds of voters with water, it is likely that the Labor Party will win office again.