Sunday, March 27, 2011

Liberals to Rule NSW

Yesterday's election saw the Liberal-National Parties win government in NSW. The Labor Party (ALP) has governed for 16 years. Barry O'Farrell will be the new Premier of NSW. Outgoing Labor Premier, Kristina Keneally, conceded defeat and congratulated Mr O'Farrell last night.

The result has been largely a foregone conclusion. Even before the election campaigning started, polling showed that voters had deserted the ALP. The following table shows 2-Party-Preferred voting intentions of NSW people surveyed from Dec-Jan to March this year.

Dec - Jan
The figures I saw last night indicated an approximate distribution of 36% ALP and 64% Coalition
Newspoll ( states that:
These surveys were conducted on the telephone by trained interviewers among voters throughout New South Wales. Telephone numbers and the person within the household were selected at random. The data has been weighted to reflect the population distribution of New South Wales. The latest survey is based on 1,000 interviews among voters. The maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points
That means that, despite a small difference in actual numbers, the polls have essentially showed no statistical change between January and polling day. This means that the election result was not influenced by either leader, nor by their party advertising. Any claims by the Coalition that its campaign advertising about a carbon tax influencing the result will be, at best, ‘spin’. Spin really refers to political false advertising.

The Coalition, as of this morning, expects to have 66 of 93 seats. Of those 66 seats, 17 are held by the National Party; 49 by the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party could govern in their own right. It remains to be seen how much ‘weight’ they will throw around in the joint party room on Monday morning!

Kristina Keneally has indicated she will not stand for the leadership of the ALP in Opposition, saying she believed the new leader should be unencumbered with decisions of the past. Policy and decisions have been made by a few, with their political interests being the driving force. With as few as 19 or 20 Members of the Legislative Assembly, and no new members, the ranks of potential leaders are thin. They include:
  • John Robertson, who moved from the Legislative Council (LC) to the Legislative Assembly (LA). He has been the most widely mentioned in the media. He has “baggage”. As representative of Unions NSW, he vigorously, and vociferously, opposed the sale of NSW electricity assets. He was ‘given’ a seat in the LC by the ALP party machine, then promoted to Minister for Transport. Suddenly, his opposition to the sale of our (people-owned) electricity asset wasn’t a problem, and he kept quiet during the sale. As Minister for Transport, he oversaw what many voters believed were myriad problems: ferries, trains, busses.  At best, he will be a party-machine installed stop-gap, who could kick heads. He will not kick heads in the party machine, although that is what is required! after all, they will largely be responsible for the politicking that might well install him as leader. John Robertson has baggage, will likely remain unpopular with voters, and will not win an election.
  • Carmel Tebbutt, former Deputy Premier and Minister for Health. She carries less baggage than John Robertson, but hospitals are still a problem area for voters, and she might not have the backroom influence or power that John Robertson is likely to have. This, incidentally, was one of the perceptions about Kristina Keneally. Being personable, hard-working , logical and caring doesn’t count in the current NSW Labor machine, even if those qualities are recognised by voters.  Being from the left faction, Carmel Tebbutt will not be popular with the right-wing party machine.
  • Nathan Rees: – ‘been there, done that’, and was not popular with voters, nor with the right-wing of the ALP.
The Coalition will expect to rule NSW for at least 8 years (2 x 4-year fixed terms). It will likely take that long for the NSW ALP to purge the party machine, give more say to rank and file members, and rebuild policies based on the interests of the people of NSW, rather than the interests of some party power-brokers.

PS expect the budget in late May 2011 to 'slash and burn', especially the Public Service, a traditional target for incoming governments, with only token trinkets for some newly won seats in western / south-western Sydney and, perhaps, one or two big-ticket schemes to be announced, but not funded, and with no delivery in 2011-12.