Newspoll: 55-45 to Coalition in NSW

The Australian has published Newspoll’s latest bi-monthly New South Wales state poll, and it finds the Labor government continuing its slow-motion journey to disaster. Labor is down two points on the primary vote to 30 per cent, the Liberals are down one to 36 per cent, the Nationals are up two to 6 per cent, and the Coalition’s two-party vote lead is up from 54-46 to 55-45. Most significant is the consistency of these results from one poll to the next, which unmistakably recalls federal polling in 1995/96 and 2007.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

65 comments on “Newspoll: 55-45 to Coalition in NSW”

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  1. Here is some commentary from The Australian…

    [Mapping the Newspoll on to the NSW electoral pendulum suggests Labor would lose about 12 of its current 51 seats in the 93-seat lower house, while the Coalition would go from 36 to 48 seats, giving it a narrow majority. However, this equation underestimates the effect of optional preferential voting, which amplifies the advantage of a lead on the primary vote. Primary support of 30 per cent at an election could see Labor reduced to a parliamentary rump.],25197,26283961-2702,00.html

    And Anotny’s electoral pendulum for NSW for easy reference…

  2. O’Farrell now leads Rees by 5% on Preferred Premier… very dangerous considering oppositions more often than not win elections while their leader trails on Preferred Premier.

  3. Bob1234, according to that article, Opposition leaders have only lead the preferred Premier rating three times, and the last time was Barry against Iemma.

  4. Oz,

    I notice again that your blog site still remains a forlorn wreck of abandonment. I can only surmise that it is because there has been too many pro Labor Government stories around. e.g. A significantly reduced deficit, an improving economy and the ease with which they are batting away the alleged scandals on Planning.

    How about a piece on the nasty piece of work Hales. It might help establish your credibility as a political analyst. Goodness knows, you need something, don’t you?

    The current poll is disappointing for Labor. It may in fact bell the end of Rees Premiership. If Labor are to make a change, then the next few weeks is probably the best opportunity.

    However, O’Farrell’s numbers are not inspiring and there seems to be a lot of “lipstick on a pig” with the commentariats analysis of how he is travelling. It will be difficult to replace him on these figures. But will it be too late if the new year brings a Labor resurgence?

    I’ve said before Labor probably only needs to score 36% to win the election and who is to say that this is not achievable over the next 18 months and especially during an election campaign where scrutiny of what the Libs intend doing will come to the forefront.

    Labor is behind. But not so far that they can’t come back and win an election in 2011.

  5. I cant say I am overly impressed with O Farrell.

    However, the NSW election is still a long way a way (thanks Clover et al for diminishing the participation of the citizenry with fewer elections). And more importantly, there is a federal election before hand. So perhaps O Farrell is laying low (well, as low as he can :-D) as he knows that electors’ concentration spans will be challenged going to early. Pacing himself to start going for it in 4Q’10 leading up to March ’11.

  6. The only good news for Rees is that there’s no viable alternative to replace him who has the support of the factional powerbrokers(Tripodi & Obeid) & Sussex Street.
    Sartor is too tainted by his association with land deals & developers, Kristina Keneally’s accent counts against her, Carmel Tebutt doesn’t want the job, Della Bosca is currently in political purgatory.
    So their strategy will be to keep Rees in the top job, hope for either a miracle or that the size of the defeat can be mitigated(so they’re not reduced to a rump in 2011). Rees carries the can and responsibility for a bad electoral result. Then they turn to Della Bosca after 2011 to be Opposition Leader.
    O’Farrell can get away with releasing virtually no policies, as long as the government continues to make mistakes and look old AND the Sydney media is campaigning relentlessly for a change of govt in 2011.

  7. [O’Farrell can get away with releasing virtually no policies]

    Unfortunately for Labor, O’Farrell has released a fair few policies (still more than a year out from an election) and some of them are pretty decent. Whether or not he’ll actually implement them if elected is another question.

  8. Based on these latest figures (particularly the concerning lead on Preferred Premier), I’ll stick my neck out and say that the next Newspoll Preferred Premier rating won’t have Rees on it.

  9. [O’Farrell can get away with releasing virtually no policies]

    Howard in 1996 anyone?

    An opposition doesn’t need policies depending on the public view of the government. If they’ve had enough, they’ve had enough. Which I think is a shame.

  10. From discussions with friends, family and business acquaintances the people of NSW have had their baseball bats out for NSW Labor since well before the last election. They didn’t come crashing down then because Peter Debnam was just so bad. Their general consensus was that John Brogden would have been premier if he hadn’t self destructed. Barry O’Farrell is saleable and four more years of loathing build up and them baseball bats are going to come down hard and heavy.

    If Rees is pushed, I just hope that Carmel Tebbutt is not pushed into the job .. she has a lot more to offer than leading the lemmings over the cliff. The danger that NSW Labor have now is that they are in such bad odour that anybody who puts their hand up is just going to look craven and self seeking .. that or they just have some serious therapy for their Messiah complex!!

  11. Rees tries hard and he seems like a good bloke, but his government has the smell of death about it and it is past its used by date.
    As usual it’s up to Tripodi and Obeid – if they can find an alternative to Rees who they think can at least minimise the size of the defeat, Nathan will get rolled.

  12. GG

    quite simply for Labor to win, its primary will need to be higher than the coalitions. If ALP get 36, and Lib gets 42, there is no chance that ALP would survive.

    This is because less green preference will flow to the ALP, and a lot of people won’t be preferencing the ALP this time.

    It is just an old incompetant gov, with no talent. Another Iemma – give us another chance campaign is not going to work this time, NSW is not that stupid

  13. Keneally is a good local member and minister. I think a lot of the commentary about her around here would be said about any Minister for Planning that, you know, approves developments.

    In the broader context I think you’ll find that the polls will close as Liberal preselections begin. I’m sure that you’ll find that a lot of young go-getting Liberal hacks will be contesting the safe seats of older Libs like Brad Hazzard, Peter Debnam, Jillian Skinner & Malcolm Kerr, not to mention some messy factional brawls in marginal labor seats. As the NSW Young Libs are controlled by the right-wing and people begin to see who they’ll be voting for, the Lib vote will surely decrease; whether to Labor or the minors is yet to be seen.

    Also interesting that the Oz adds it up to 48-39 plus a handful of indi’s. Given that the LibNats only have 36 at the moment, including Ryde, it shows what a Labor state NSW really is.

  14. Question is whether Labor can hold the middle-class Sydney seats like Kogarah, Coogee etc. that they held in 1988 and which then saved them from a complete disaster, big problem is that western Sydney and central coast have changed a lot since 1988 as Howard’s 2001 & 2004 sweeps showed.

  15. Hamish at 15

    The Libs are probably sensible enough to ensure that those preselected are not all of the religious right. The Clarkeists will get the numbers in some seats (the Hills district, and southern parts of Sydney, most likely), but…

    Keneally may be what you say, but the public perception of her (to the extent that there is any, the voting public are not all buffs like us) is much more negative after her bravura performances in recent weeks. That L-E-G-A-L episode could make it into coalition ads in 2011, if KK has a significant profile at that time.

  16. [Howard in 1996 anyone?

    An opposition doesn’t need policies depending on the public view of the government. If they’ve had enough, they’ve had enough. Which I think is a shame.]

    You can also add Carpenter in 2008, though to be fair BArnett only got in via a marriage of convenience with the Nats and a bunch or rag tag indepenedents.

  17. Hi Dovif,

    The current received wisdom is “less green preference will flow to the ALP, and a lot of people won’t be preferencing the ALP this time”. This is your opinion and may or may not happen depending on the circumstances in place in 18 months.

    I remember the last election where the commentariat and “Insiders” were predicting Labor’s demise with gusto. My view is that these people talk to each other and analyse the same political news, so their view of the political world often converges.

    The Libs also have a particularly difficult job to achieve a majority in their own right. Labor may be able to run a campaign on stable Government. Who knows.

    As I said earlier, the Libs are in a good position atm. However, the personal polling for O’Farrell is unconvincing. The real problem will be what do the Libs do if Labor stages a comeback in the new year.

    18 months is a fair way away and situations change quickly. One only has to think back to Howard in 2001 trailing by 58/42 in March and yet won comfortably later in the same year.

    Liberal supporters should not be counting their alligators till they are hatched.


  18. [The current received wisdom is “less green preference will flow to the ALP, and a lot of people won’t be preferencing the ALP this time”. This is your opinion and may or may not happen depending on the circumstances in place in 18 months.]

    It’s almost guaranteed, because a lot of Greens branches will not recommend preferences to Labor in the next election, unlike last election, and the increase in the Greens’ vote means this will have a pretty significant impact.

    [Labor may be able to run a campaign on stable Government.]

    Good joke. A party that knifed its leader and is constantly dogged by leadership speculation, and the fact that the party is factionally torn about 10 different ways with the Premier and Ministers leaking against each other is not going to be able to mount a campaign on “stable Government”.

    [However, the personal polling for O’Farrell is unconvincing.]

    O’Farrell is leading the preferred Premier ratings. That rarely happens to Opposiiton leaders, even if their party is leading. It’s a zero sum game, Greensborough Growler. He doesn’t need to be worshipped like the messiah.

  19. Oz,

    1. As I pointed out earlier. Pure speculation and opinion. Let us see how it plays out in the heat of an election.
    2.Stable Government. Many people prefer a clear cut Government to unstable coalitions with Independants. This may become an issue closer to the election if the Coalition do not seem likely to command a majority in its own right.
    3. As I have said O’Farrell’s polling is unconvincing and he could be vulnerable to a resurgent Labor. See today’s Newspoll for how quickly things turnaround.

    Another point I meant to include earlier. The scare campaign against the Government has been intense from the media and pseudo political analysts like yourself. In the meantime life goes on and I’m sure people use public transport, the schools and hospitals function and police still patrol. The point is that the negativity may be somewhat overblown and may eventually be counter productive.

  20. GG

    1. you must not live in NSW, I know a lot of ex-Labor supporters who will be voting either Green or Liberals for the first time in their life and will exhaust. Last time, Iemma was begging for another go, and that everything will improve, as I said, NSW voters are not fools to fall for that a second time. Debnam is unelectable, while O’Farrell is popular.
    2. Stable is not good in NSW, since it is stable and incompetant, every 2 weeks, there is a new stuff up, planning, rail timetable, railcorp corruption planning stuff up, even Rudd is sick of the incompetancy in NSW. The lastest, Railcorp lack of planning cost 800 jobs
    3. unconvincing, keep clutching at straws, uncommited has decreased, it seem that people in NSW are making up their mind, do you know how many opposition leaders gets to be preferred premier/PM and have positive net approval rating?

  21. dovif,

    From all you and Oz say, not living in NSW is an advantage. However, it does not prevent one from passively analysing the available data on its merit. Maybe you are too close to the situation to actually be capable of rational judgements in this matter.

    There are numerous possible scenarios between now and the election. Libs might be in front now. But, given their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, then I wouldn’t be measuring up the curtains for Ministerial office just yet.

  22. GG,

    While I agree that anything can happen, NSW Labor seem to be falling into the trap Howard did in 2007; waiting for some undefined “something” to come along and change the dynamic. But given the consistency of the polling, Labor need to be extremely proactive to turn things around, not sit and hope the Opposition suddenly implodes. So what are Labor doing to make this “something” happen?

  23. MDM,

    Reasonable question and I agree.

    They could change leadership to a more populist figure. They could implement some of the necessary PS reforms that have been strangling the State. I’d expect Labor implementing change with compassion will be somewhat different to the throat cutting approach the Libs are likely to take.

    External factors like a recovering economy where people are less fearful of losing their jobs may make voters more benign. Also the impact of the economic stimulus in every local community has to be a positive for the Government.

    Finally, a co ordinated expose on what the Libs will do in office if elected may scare the bejesus out of the electorate.

    I don’t expect Labor will die wondering if they could have kissed one more baby.

  24. GG, the NSW Labor government is in the same position as Labor in Victoria 1990-92. Then the Victorian PS unions resisted any reforms and then took the go-away money when Kennett took office. Why would any NSW white collar unions accept reform when they know the current government won’t be there in 18 months, and when the government was comprehensively defeated by those same unions last year on electricity privatisation. The PS unions will resist reform now and then take the offered pay out after the 2011 election. Why go off the public teat before you have to.

    The government’s basic problem is that anything that goes wrong is instantly blamed on the government. This afternoon two trains have died on the bridge in mid-peak hour. Thousands of people are walking home. The government will cop all the blame, as happens everytime anything goes wrong. Every stuff up in public transport, every snarl on the road, is blamed on the government’s failure to invest in infrastructure. All the transport plans over the last decade, and none of the new rail lines built.

    I assure you, if you live in Sydney, rarely a day goes by without some minister on the evening news apologising for some stuff-up. Never any good news, just stuff-ups. I’ve covered a lot of elections over the year, and I haven’t seen an electorate as annoyed since Unsworth’s defeat in 1988.

  25. “This afternoon two trains have died on the bridge in mid-peak hour. Thousands of people are walking home”

    Not again!

    The only saving grace is that the north shore seats are all Liberal held, although any flow-on effects to the Central Coast will hurt.

  26. Hi Antony,

    1. Your further anecdotes and examples of the current situation are reflected in the polls. Yes, people are peeved.
    2. Comparison with Vic Labor 1990 is legitimate. However, Kennett’s actions of slashing teachers, police and nurses are a salutary reminder of what you can expect under the Libs.
    3. How deep seated is the antipathy to Labor and can it be turned around in 18 months? Not sure but the Liberal polling has yet to convince me they are a shoe in.
    4. It depends on how the Government reacts. Current speculation is there will be a new leader and a new platform allowing some of the reforms proposed by Iemma. Who knows, a new coat of paint and some reformist zeeal may change the dynamics.
    5. Notwithstanding the alleged incompetence of the administration from PBers, the media and the commentariat, my belief is that the general poor economy is a significant facto in people’s displeasure atm. This is improving and with current predictions that we’ll be back to above trend growth within twelve months.
    6. No one has really explained how the Libs get to a majority in their own right. Do NSW want a Government depending on 5 or 6 Independants to maintain their ascendancy?

  27. Question –

    Everytime a NSW poll comes out we hear that the 2PP is meaningless because of OPV and Labor’s primary of 30% would result in a landslide. I understand the first point, but how do you calculate seat losses on that metric?

    Has anyone tried to a make a calculator based on primary votes, as opposed to 2PP, that allows you to adjust preference flows? Would that be very hard?

  28. Good question Rewi.

    The last few months have been insanely busy for me in a number of areas. I hoped to start up again now-ish, but spending a lot of my time preparing for a certain UN conference in December. Enough people have asked me about it though that I think it’s worth just jumping back into it.

  29. Oz, the problem isn’t OPV, it’s the fact that nearly a quarter of the electorates at the 2007 election did not finish as two-party contests. They finished as one party versus an Independent or minor party candidate. In those circumstances, a state-wide 2PP is a theoretical concept that has no relationship to a real result.

    The other problem is the shift in the state-wide primary vote translates into a uniform swing that underestimates the swing in individual seats. If you get a big shift in primary votes, the way exhausted preferences shake out in individual seats will create a bigger 2PP-swing. It’s a bit hard to explain the maths.

    GG, 2 things. One, Jeff Kennett was a twice defeated and once dumped Liberal Leader who was less popular than Kirner. O’Farrell has none of those disadvantages.

    Two, as for this government having reformist zeal, I need go no futher than their utter failure with last week’s proposals to release new taxi licence plates. It has been a complete cave-in to interest groups, as was the buckle on poker machine taxes. This is a government that won’t take over bankrupt bus companies but instead buys busses for them because of a union coverage dispute between the TWU and the public sector unions. John Robertson, the man who led the campaign against selling of electricity assets, is now the Minister for Public Sector Reform!

    Another point to stress is that all the polling 2PP figures are based on last election preference flows. We have seen a huge shift in primary support from Labor to Coalition, and a big rise in ‘Other’ vote. If there isn’t a similar shift from these ‘other’ voters in preferences, I will be amazed.

  30. Thanks Anthony.

    [John Robertson, the man who led the campaign against selling of electricity assets, is now the Minister for Public Sector Reform!]

    He’s also the Minister for Energy. What’s the big energy policy? Privatisation!

    He’s also the Minister for Corrective Services. What’s the big policy there? Privatisation!

    The irony is too much.

    [If there isn’t a similar shift from these ‘other’ voters in preferences, I will be amazed.]

    I don’t know in how many seats The Greens recommended preferences to Labor last election, but it’s going to be a lot less this time. The Greens wouldn’t benefit from any preference deal in NSW. Any contests where The Greens have a chance of winning a lower house seat are Labor vs. Greens, so Labor preferences don’t matter. Preferences don’t really come into play in the upper house either.

    From what I understand, there’s usually a 10% difference between when The Greens recommend preferences to Labor and when they don’t, but it’s fairly safe to presume it’ll be bigger this time.

  31. Oz, the difference in Green preference flows was 13% if they directed them to Labor. The Liberals were also filthy in 2007 that despite the Coalition promising to ditch the desalination plant, the Greens still chose to direct preferences to Labor in the neighbouring electorates of Miranda and Menai.

  32. Oz, in the 73 seats where two-party counts were conducted, the Greens directed to Labor in 43, with 46.2% of preferences flowing to Labor, 11.2% to Coalition aqnd 42.7% exhausting. The Greens chose to exhaust in the other 30 and preferences went 33.2% to Labor, 13.5% to Liberal and 53.3% exhausted.

  33. Well you are a wealth of information.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of seats where The Greens recommend preferences falls to under 10. I hear there are people strongly advocating for this within the party.

    Based on nothing but my gut feeling of the NSW electorate, and particularly Green’s voters, if the recommendation was to exhaust I would suggest the exhaustion rate to rise to at least 60%.

  34. I see that O’Farrell’s Melbourne Cup tip Changingoftheguard was scratched. Hardly propipitous.

    For me, O’Farrell does not have lucky lips.

  35. I’ve got to say, I also remember very senior Labor officials who told me Bob Carr would never be Premier. It was a few lucky breaks in 1991 that gave him the chance to survive and then win in 1995. Carr himself was so pessimistic that the run up to the 1991 election that it was the only time in his life he gave up doing his political diaries, admitting in the diaries that prospects looked so gloomy that he couldn’t face doing daily entries.

    I could mention the very senior conservative columnist who abused me down the phone in 1997 that he could not think of anyone less likely to ever become Premier of South Australia than Mike Rann. When I reminded him of similar remarks made about Bob Carr, he just snorted and suggested I didn’t know what I was talking about. Of course, Rann did come within 2 hours and 1 vote of not becoming Premier, so I can’t claim presience. But there is many a hopeless joke opposition leader who trailed in the polls who went on to win elections.

    I think descending to comments on whether O’Farrell is lucky or not is the least convincing argument you’ve put forward yet.

  36. Greensborough,

    Anything is possible with the NSW Libs. They could find a way to lose the next election, or only get a hung Parliament. It’s possible. To that extent you have a fair point.

    But the Libs are going to have do this themselves. Labor can’t do much off its own bat.

    What follows is admittedly subjective and unscientific, but I’ll say it anyway. I’ve never seen a Govt or a Party or a Premier held in the sort of contempt that currently accompanies the current NSW Govt, ALP and Rees. Keating in 95/96? Howard in 07? Not even remotely close.

    Even Labor supporters think the current Govt is a complete joke. Only the Liberals can save them. It’s possible the Libs will find a way to stuff it up, but I wouldn’t be betting on it.

  37. [I see that O’Farrell’s Melbourne Cup tip Changingoftheguard was scratched. Hardly propipitous.

    For me, O’Farrell does not have lucky lips.]

    Speaking of Barry, some bright spark has suggested he appear on Kyle & Jackie O’s show.

    from Twitter:


    I think it’s about time we got @barryofarrell on the show.As u say @sharkywoo,He seems 2really care about our issues.Thanks 4 the suggestion44 minutes ago from Tweetie ]

  38. I think I should also kill this argument about the Coalition not being able to win enough seats. In 2002 I was asked to do a paper for the NSW Parliament translating the 2001 Federal election results onto state boundaries. These calculations are always a bit ropey, but it can still be an interestinf comparison.

    In 2001 the Coalition polled 52.1% 2PP in NSW. On a comparison, the Coalition won 49 seats to Labor’s 44, though 4 of those would have been IND held, depriving the Coalition of a majority.

    But if the Federal Coalition had polled 55%, what current state polls are indicating,the Coalition would have won another 11 state seats, meaning an easy majority. The Coalition polled 43% primary in 2001, they are currently polling 42%, but Labor is polling 6% down on primaries.

    The extra seats the Coalition would have won on 2001 results? Riverstone, The Entrance, Blue Mountains, Londonderry, Peats, Tweed, Clarence, Murray-Darling, Ryde, Penrith, Heathcote, Menai and Miranda. The next bunch left under 3%, Georges River, Mulgoa, Wentworthville, Kiama, Parramatta, Drummoyne, Coogee Port Stephens.

    All up, exactly the seats the Coalition need to win next time. On Federal figures, they are all within range.

  39. [I’ve never seen a Govt or a Party or a Premier held in the sort of contempt that currently accompanies the current NSW Govt, ALP and Rees. Keating in 95/96? Howard in 07? Not even remotely close.]

    Yes, the main defense of NSW labor by the rusted ons is baseless generalisations against the opposition.

    At least with Keating and Howard there were policies, accomplishments and actions to hold up as achievments.

    There is very little that you can point to with NSW labor as a reason for re-electing them except some vague assertion that the libs may be worse.

  40. Antony,

    Injecting humour in to the discussion does not necessarily descend the discussion. Besides, O’Farrell was trying to be snarky with his tip and came a cropper. Poor judgement or are there doubts about the character of the man?

    One thing I have learnt about Federal, State and Council elections is that voters can distinguish between the different levels of Government and tend to vote on the appropriate issues. Therefore your academic study from 2002 overlaying voting patterns from the Feds onto State boundaries is not likely to be a practical roadmap of how the Libs might secure an outright majority in 2011.


    The problem is the Libs are presenting a blank canvas as a matter of strategy in order to make the Government the issue. It is legitimate for the Government to paint that canvas out as they see fit for their political advantage. It’s the risk the Libs take in running their small target campaign.

  41. #42

    Rudd did that a couple of times in the lead-up to 2007, and apparently charmed the pants off all the housewives and teenage girls that listen to 2Day.

    I don’t think even his strongest supporters would call Rudd ‘Mister Personality’, so if he could send them ga-ga-, it should work out okay for O’Farrell.

    BTW does NSW Labor have a resident ‘good bloke’ MP they send out to FM radio?

  42. GG

    The government’s incompetance in NSW is the issue in NSW …. stuff up on trains again this morning.

    NSW Union is going to draw on Della Bosca to be premier. He is the next head of the class …. isn’t he husband to Mrs “Do you know who I am” Belinda Neal? That should make NSW Labor more popular in the central coast ….. Is he still going out with that 26 yo.

    There are so little talent in NSW Labor, no wonder we are one of the state with lowest growth and highest unemployment (with Tasmania)

    Yeah you are right, it is not good to live in NSW atm, we have been ruined by a group of incompetant do nothing people for 14 years

  43. dovif,

    Repetition of the same talking points. If there was six months of continuous service, would it still be an issue in 2011?

    Union Booga Booga. Della Bosca Bigger Booga Booga. Neal Even biggerer Booga Booga!

    Tell us all about the Liberal political talent. All I ever hear about are personal vendettas and uncontrollable children at Young Liberal Meetings.

    What if growth returns to above trend next year?

    So the sun doesn’t shine and the birds don’t twitter. You ought to stop talking to political friends. They’re getting you down.

  44. “Union Booga Booga. Della Bosca Bigger Booga Booga. Neal Even biggerer Booga Booga!”

    To be fair, GG, Labor are not exactly shrinking violets on the “David Clarke/Religious Right/Massive Slash And Burn Booga Booga” either. So both sides should probably stop getting so precious about these sort of stuff.

  45. GG, of course voters are able to distinguish between state and federal issues. The point of my example was that people keep taking a 2PP% of 54 or 55 and ticking up the pendulum and saying the Coalition will struggle to get a majority, and I’m pointing out this is not necessarily the right approach. The 2001 Federal election shows the Coalition can just about get there with 52% and actually have a good majority by 55%.

    The gap between state and federal Labor vote in Sydney’s outer suburbs was 15-20% at the 2001 and 2004 Federal elections compared to the 1999 and 2003 state elections. Howard was seen as delivering on lower interest rates and the Carr government in its early years was seen as delivering on services.

    The M4 was widened to Penrith and completed just before the 1999 election. The tolls on the M4 and M5 were lifted. Work began on the M5 east before the 1999 election and was completed before the 2003 election. So the government had a record to defend. Today both roads are car parks in the morning and there’s not a thing the government can do to fix them before the next election. I won’t even bother to catalogue the proposed rail lines and carriage upgrades that it either failed to deliver or delivered late.

    You can say all you like about the Opposition being a blank canvas, but in 2011 the voters only alternative is to re-elect a Labor government already 16 years in office for another four years. The key question is what would that government do in the next four years that was different from the last four years. What happened to the ‘State Plan’ that was the centrepiece of the government’s re-election campaign in 2007?

    Run down this list and tell me where the dynamism is that would cause the electorate to give the government another term.

    I tell you one name, Michael Daley, generally viewed as being the government’s best minister despite his relative youth. However, you won’t hear him mentioned as a possible leader before the election as the party is wharehousing him to take the leadership after losing. The Labor Party is laying its plans for a comeback in the future, but that comeback won’t be in 2011.

    Most of the disputes you read about in the Liberal Party are between members of the right, which makes it a bit hard to paint the Liberal Party as having been taken over by a monolithic block of Christian right-wingers.

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