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NSW Election Newsletter
Issue 4, 23 March 2015
 
The NSW election is now only days away.  Premier Mike Baird started the week with positive headlines claiming the Coalition is set for re-election, however with a substantially reduced majority.  A Fairfax/Ipsos poll published today has the Coalition leading Labor 54:46 in the two-party-preferred vote, a result that would see the Coalition win 51 seats compared to Labor’s 38.  However Labor remains hopeful of winning a number of seats with margins larger than the state-wide 10 per cent swing suggested by this poll.  With a significant number of marginal seats up for grabs, the announcement of a Labor/Greens preference deal across 23 key seats last week, including in Strathfield and Ballina, could prove important.  The deal is expected to lift Labor’s vote by as much as 4 per cent in seats where The Greens poll well.
 
Premier Mike Baird officially launched the Liberal campaign on Sunday in Sydney, welcoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott and former PM John Howard to a function with the party faithful.  Mr Baird promised to create 150,000 new jobs and stressed the Coalition’s track record in government over the past four years.  Meanwhile, seeking to capitalise on the Prime Minister’s unpopularity, Labor Leader Luke Foley was joined by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to tell a party gathering that ‘if Mr Baird goes next Saturday, Mr Abbott goes on the Monday’.
 
The Opposition Leader continues to make hay over a UBS research report that questioned the effect of the Coalition’s partial privatisation plan on the state’s budget over the long term.  The 14 page note, originally titled ‘Bad for the budget, good for the state’, was later reissued with the new title ‘Good for the state’.  Labor, The Greens and the Shooters and Fishers will now combine to force an upper house inquiry into the matter in the next parliament.  For its part, the Coalition has continued to point to the various senior former Labor figures who support the privatisation plan.
 
Meanwhile the NSW Electoral Commission’s iVote service - for the online casting of pre-poll votes - has succumbed to criticism following reports that two parties did not appear on the upper house ballot paper for a time and that computer science academics had successfully breached the system highlighting its vulnerability to tampering.  The service has seen more than 60,000 cast their ballot already despite these problems.
 
GRACosway will bring you a summary of the final week of the campaign this Friday.


POLCY FOCUS - Infrastructure Spending In Transport and Health

Infrastructure spending is the key policy background at this election.  The Coalition has an incoming pot of gold owing to its proposed partial lease of the state electricity distribution assets.  It plans to spend the bulk of its $20 billion on transport improvements.  Labor on the other hand, who remains steadfastly opposed to the “sale”, has used some ingenuity to find itself a sizeable war chest although still half the size of the Coalition’s.  Its $10 billion – funded by reversing the abolition of a range of business taxes and reallocating “uncommitted” money in the governments Restart NSW infrastructure fund – will be used on a range of projects, predominately targeting transport and health.  Both infrastructure policies are in addition to the $15 billion over the next 10 years already allocated in the budget for infrastructure.
 
In the transport portfolio, the Coalition is proposing a $10 billion second Sydney Harbour rail crossing to connect the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link to the Bankstown Line.  This project would add an additional three stations to the CBD. The Coalition is also committing $1.3 billion to improve the Sydney Rapid Transit, $395 million for improvements to the M4 and M5 East, and $1 billion towards the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail, a project Labor has so far not committed to. Labor has pledged to deliver all projects already contracted, however will defer for at least 4 years the proposed second harbour crossing and abandon stage three of WestConnex.  Labor remains committed to the extensions of M4 and M5 East.
 
In health, the Baird Government has announced the upgrade of some 60 hospitals and health services during the next term of government.  At a cost of $5 billion, big ticket items include an allocation of $900 million for Westmead Hospitals, a $500 million upgrade of Prince of Wales Hospital, $300 million for the construction of a new hospital at Rouse Hill, and $251 million for improvements at Shellharbour Hospital.  In contrast, Labor has promised a more modest infrastructure spend of an additional $1.7 billion on health, with the main focus a pledge to increase funding to frontline services and staffing.  Central to Labor’s plan is a proposal to legislate a nurse to patient ratio of 1 to 3, requiring an additional 840 nurses across the state, and introducing four free nurse walk-in clinics.  Labor has also pledged $430 million and $323 million to upgrade Westmead and Concord Hospital respectively.


SEATS TO WATCH - Key Regional Battles

Ballina
 
Ballina is situated on the far north coast of NSW taking in the centres of Ballina, Lennox Head, Byron Bay, and Mullumbimby among others.  Known for its laid back lifestyle, the area thrives on tourism and local services and farming.
 
The seat of Ballina has largely been in its current form since 1988 when it was won by The Nationals’ Don Page.  With Don Page retiring at this election, the seat is seen as ‘in-play’ for Labor despite its massive margin, with a ReachTel poll of 700 people published over the weekend showing Labor leading The Nationals 52.2% to 47.8% in the two-party-preferred vote.  Don Page is a former Deputy Leader of The Nationals, and was most recently Minister for the North Coast and Minister for Local Government until April 2014.  With his retirement, and strong opposition to Coal Seam Gas (CSG) in the area, Labor is targeting the seat (and the neighbouring seats of Tweed and Lismore) with regular campaign visits.  Labor has promised to declare a total ban on CSG in the area. 
 
Paul Spooner, a Byron Shire Councillor and former chair of Arts Northern Rivers, Ambassador for White Ribbon Australia and general manager of the Byron Community Centre is Labor’s candidate.  Kris Beavis is running for The Nationals.  A former executive in banking and education, he is the CEO of the local Westpac Rescue Helicopter.  Tamara Smith, a school teacher, is The Greens candidate.
 
Current candidates: 
 
  • Kris Beavis, The Nationals
  • Tamara Smith, The Greens
  • Jeff Johnson, Independent
  • Paul Spooner, Country Labor
  • Matthew Hartley, Independent
 
For more information see the NSW Electoral Commission and the ABC.
 
Tamworth
 
The electorate of Tamworth is based around the major regional centre of Tamworth at the heart of the New England region in NSW.  Inland from the coastal towns of Port Macquarie and Kempsey, it includes towns such as Manilla, Gunnedah, Werris Creek and Walcha. Following the redistribution in 2013 it no longer includes Boggabri which has moved to the electorate of Barwon.
 
The electorate has existed since 1880. In recent times, Tamworth was won by a young Tony Windsor in 1991, who later went on to serve as an independent in the Federal Parliament.  The Nationals won the seat in 2001 but lost it to Independent Peter Draper in 2003.  Draper held the seat until 2011 when it was won back for The Nationals by Kevin Anderson.  Anderson is facing Peter Draper at this election, holding the seat on a notional margin of 6.8%.
 
Current MP Kevin Anderson, the former broadcast journalist, has served as Chair of the Community Services Committee in his first term.  Former MP Peter Draper worked in publishing for much of his career, and was the regional manager of Hazelton Airlines immediately prior to his election in 2003.  Labor’s Joe Hillard works at the Gunnedah Probation and Parole office.
 
Current candidates:
 
  • Kevin Anderson, The Nationals
  • Peter Draper, Independent
  • Pat Schultz, The Greens
  • Joe Hillard, Country Labor
  • Stan Heuston, Independent
 
For more information see the NSW Electoral Commission and the ABC.


BIOGRAPHIES - The Deputy Leaders
The Hon. Troy Grant MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Trade and Investment
Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services
Minister for Tourism and Major Events
Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing
Minister for the Arts 
Member for Dubbo
Member of the Legislative Assembly 
Member of the The Nationals 
 
Troy Grant was elected to the seat of Dubbo at the 2011 NSW Election, and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources later the same year.  He was made Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing, and Minister for the Arts in April 2014, before assuming the Deputy Premiership and Leadership of the National Party in October that year following Andrew Stoner’s retirement as party leader.
 
Grant has served on a number of parliamentary committees since his election to Parliament, including as Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Sentencing of Child Sexual Assault Offenders, and as a member of the Social Policy Committee.
 
Prior to entering Parliament, Grant was a police officer for 22 years, rising to the rank of Inspector of Police and serving in various communities across NSW including Maitland, Tamworth, Newcastle, Swansea, and Lake Macquarie.  He holds a Certificate of Policing from the NSW Police and an Advanced Diploma in Management from the Western Institute of TAFE.
 
Grant is a two-time recipient of the Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage, and has also received the Premier’s Public Sector and Commissioner’s Unit awards.
 
He and his wife Toni live in Dubbo with their two children.
The Hon. Linda Burney MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly
Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services
Shadow Minister for Ageing and Disability Services
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast 
Member for Canterbury
Member of the Legislative Assembly 
Member of the Australian Labor Party 
 
Linda Burney was elected as Deputy Leader of the Opposition following Labor’s defeat at the 2011 election.  Since John Robertson’s resignation in January she has served as Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.  She was first elected to the seat of Canterbury in 2003.  
 
Burney was appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary assisting the Minister for Education and Training by then Premier Morris Iemma in 2005.  Burney served in a variety of ministerial roles including the Minister for Volunteering; Fair Trading; Women; Community Services; and as Minister for the State Plan.  In Opposition she has formerly held the shadow portfolios for Planning, Infrastructure and Heritage; Sport and Recreation; and the Hunter.
 
Burney grew up in Whitton, a small town in NSW, and attended high school in Leeton and later Penrith.  She obtained her Diploma of Teaching at the Mitchell College of Advanced Education, and began her career teaching in Western Sydney.  Burney has also served on the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, as President of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and was the Director-General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs before entering Parliament.
 
Burney was the first Aboriginal Australian to be elected to the NSW Parliament.  She is a member of the Wiradjuri nation and was awarded a NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and the Centenary Medal in 2003.
About GRACosway
GRACosway is Australia's leading public affairs and corporate and financial communications counsel. Our integrated suite of services provides public policy, communications, regulatory, issues management, and media relations advice to a range of domestic and international clients across all industry sectors. From offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, and Perth (through GRA Everingham), GRACosway's clients benefit from the combined experience, expertise, and strategic perspective of our team in addressing complex and commercially sensitive projects. For more information head to gracosway.com.au
 
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