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NSW Election Newsletter
Issue 3, 16 March 2015
 
Election campaigns deliver colour and movement of their own special brand and week 3 of the 2015 NSW election campaign was no exception.  From funding promises to Taronga and Western Plains zoos through to a cow manure delivery to the doorstep of Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George as part of an anti-CSG protest, such was life on the hustings.
 
In a sign the election is creeping ever closer, there were three official campaign launches this week, including yesterday’s launch of The Nationals’ campaign in the heartland regional city of Dubbo, home to leader Troy Grant.  The launch came with a commitment for a new $1billion XPT train fleet and $500 million to upgrade the Newell Highway.  
 
Meanwhile, back in Sydney The Greens held their official campaign launch at the University of Technology, pledging to tax property speculators and big business to raise $20 billion, the equivalent of the Coalition’s expected proceeds from electricity assets privatisation.  The Greens would direct funding to a range of initiatives including a $2.75 billion local infrastructure and job creation project to ‘kick-start’ struggling communities.
 
On Thursday, Singleton hosted the Country Labor campaign launch, signalling the party’s focus on both the Lower Hunter seats as well as the electorate of Upper Hunter following the retirement of long-serving Nationals MP George Souris.
 
As in all state election campaigns, law and order continued to feature with Labor and the Coalition making commitments for additional police numbers of 480 and 310 respectively and funding for new technology.  Yesterday Premier Baird announced a plan to crackdown on the drug ice, including increasing roadside drug tests, improving treatment services, making it easier to charge dealers with possession and increasing community awareness about the dangers of the drug.  Labor has previously committed to a 21st Century Drug Summit to tackle the whole-of-government challenges posed by ice.
 
The final leaders’ debate on ABC on Friday night was a relatively relaxed and mature affair with Labor’s Luke Foley exploiting community concerns about electricity asset sales, accusing the Premier of having softened his language over the past week and no longer using the term privatisation.  The Premier continued to press Mr Foley on how he would fund his election commitments.
 
A Galaxy/Daily Telegraph poll of 820 voters taken last Wednesday and Thursday has the Coalition ahead 54:46 on a two-party preferred basis, up one point on last month.  Labor will be buoyed by an improvement in the recognition of their leader, with 38 per cent of those surveyed able to name Luke Foley, compared to 19 per cent in January; however he still trails the 65 per cent of respondents who could name Mike Baird as Premier.  On preferred Premier, Baird leads 49 per cent to Foley 24 per cent with 27 per cent uncommitted.
 
These results will be on the minds of pundits as pre-poll opens across the State today and the first votes in the 2015 election are cast.


THE UPPER HOUSE

The outcome for the NSW Legislative Council (LC or upper house) at this month’s election is crucial for whoever wins government.  Should the Coalition be returned to government, new legislation will be required to enable it to follow through with its electricity privatisation plan.  Despite the promises made to date, if the Coalition wins government, but has an unworkable upper house, its entire election platform is jeopardised.
 
To gain an absolute majority a party needs 22 of the total 42 seats in the upper house.  Any less than this requires negotiation with members of other parties on each bill or vote that comes before the chamber.  This has been the case for the government over the past four years as the current upper house configuration shows:
 
  • Coalition 19
  • Labor 14
  • Greens 5
  • Christian Democrats (CDP) 2
  • Shooters and Fishers 2
 
Unlike lower house MPs, upper house members serve 8 year terms.  Election of upper house members is staggered with only half the number of upper house spots (21) up at each election.  The upper house is like one big electorate in NSW and to win one of the 21 spots, a candidate needs to receive around 4.5% of the overall vote (what is known as a “quota”).  However if this is not achieved a candidate can still get elected based on the preferences received from others.
 
The following is a breakdown by party for upper house members whose spots are up for election:
 
  • Coalition 8
  • Labor 9
  • Greens 2
  • Christian Democratic Party (CDP) 1
  • Shooters and Fishers 1
 
The Coalition is looking to win an additional spot at this month’s election in addition to contesting eight it already holds of the 21 positions available.  If successful in securing nine, a returned Coalition government would potentially only need to deal with the CDP to secure support in the upper house, rather than the CDP and another party as has been the case.  Crucially, the CDP is the only minor party willing to negotiate with the Coalition on electricity privatisation; the ALP, Greens and Shooters & Fishers are all opposed to this policy. 
 
For Labor, if the party is unable to win government, retaining the status quo in the upper house would likely allow them to send the Coalition back to the drawing board on privatisation.
 
While it’s always dangerous to use past results to predict the future, it is interesting to note that no party has won more than 8 spots without winning government since 1991 (the last time major reforms to the upper house occurred).  Similarly no party has ever won fewer than 8 spots without winning government over the same period.  In addition the CDP and Shooters and Fishers have both won at least one seat since their respective parties were formed.
 
Whatever the final make, there will be some fresh faces in the upper house.  This follows the retirement of Marie Ficarra (Liberal), Jenny Gardiner (Nationals) and Amanda Fazio (ALP), and three leaving to contest the Lower House – Luke Foley (ALP - Auburn), Penny Sharpe (ALP – Newtown) and Melinda Pavey (Nationals - Oxley). 

As per the nominations, the new faces we will see from the Coalition are: Ben Franklin (Nationals), Bronnie Taylor (Nationals), Louis Amato (Liberals), Shayne Mallard (Liberals), and possibly Scott Farlow (Liberals) and Hollie Hughes (Liberals) depending on the vote.  For the ALP, Courtney Houssos and Daniel Mookhey will be new additions, with Aisha Amjad an outside possibility.  For the Greens, Justin Field and Dawn Walker are in with a chance.


SEATS TO WATCH - Southern Sydney

These southern Sydney seats all fell to the Coalition in the landslide 2011 election – Oatley by the slimmest margin and Miranda returned to Labor in the interim. They will be hotly contested and closely watched this year.
 
Oatley
 
Oatley is an inner metropolitan, largely suburban electorate located in the southern part of Sydney incorporating suburbs including Beverly Hills, Hurstville, Kingsgrove, Mortdale, Oatley, Peakhurst, and Riverwood
 
The seat was first contested at the 2007 election and was based largely on the abolished electorate of Georges River.  The sitting Labor member for Georges River, Kevin Greene, won the newly created seat in 2007, but was unable to survive the collapse in Labor’s vote four years later.  Liberal Mark Coure narrowly won the seat with a swing of 14.9%.
 
The 2013 redistribution slightly favours the Liberal incumbent, and has seen his margin increase from 0.5% to a notional 3.8% based on the 2011 results.
 
Coure is Deputy Chair of the Legislative Assembly Committee on Economic Development and prior to entering Parliament was the Director of the Oatley RSL and a Councillor for the City of Kogarah.  Labor’s candidate is O’Bray Smith, a nurse unit manager at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, who also serves on the executive council for the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association.
 
Current Candidates:
 
  • Mark Coure, Liberal Party
  • O'Bray Smith, Australian Labor Party
  • Philippa Clark, Greens
 
For more information see the NSW Electoral Commission and the ABC.


Miranda
 
Miranda is a suburban electorate located in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney’s south east.  It includes suburbs such as Bonnet Bay, Caringbah, Como, Gymea, Illawong, Jannali, Kareela, Miranda, Oyster Bay, Sutherland, Sylvania, Sylvania Waters and Taren Point.
 
Miranda was first contested at the 1971 election and has been held by the Liberal Party for all but 17 of the past 44 years.  The seat was won by Labor’s Barry Collier in 1999 who held it until his retirement at the 2011 election.  At that election, well-known local rugby league personality Graham Annesley won the seat for the Liberal Party with one of the biggest swings of the 2011 election.  Annesley, the former chief operating officer of the National Rugby League was soon appointed as the Minister for Sport in the O’Farrell Government.  In 2013, Annesley surprised many by resigning from Parliament after just two years to become CEO of the Gold Coast Titans rugby league team.  Former Labor member Barry Collier subsequently returned from retirement to claim the seat in a bruising by-election for the O’Farrell Government.  Collier is once again retiring and will not recontest the seat. 
 
Miranda represents the Liberal Party’s best chance of claiming a seat at this election.  Despite being held by Labor, the redistribution has strengthened the nominal Liberal margin to 23% based on the results of the 2011 by-election.  You can read more about Miranda’s radical margin change with the ABC’s Antony Green here.
 
The Liberal Candidate is 28-year-old Eleni Petinos, who won preselection over Sutherland Shire Mayor Steven Simpson.  Petinos is a former tax lawyer and is currently a policy advisor to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.  Labor’s candidate for the seat is Greg Holland, a former advisor in the Hawke Government, and current small business owner, director at a government advisory firm, and board member of the Cronulla Sharks Rugby League Football Club.
 
For more information see the NSW Electoral Commission and the ABC.
 
Current Candidates:
 
  • Eleni Petinos, Liberal Party
  • Greg Holland, Australian Labor Party
  • Mick Nairn, Greens
  • John Brett, Independent
 
Rockdale
 
Rockdale is located just west of the Sydney Airport in the southern district of St George and remains unchanged by the redistribution.  The seat includes the suburbs of Brighton-Le-Sands, Dolls Point, Kogarah, Ramsgate, Rockdale, Sandringham, Sans Souci, and Wolli Creek among others.
 
The seat has been represented by a number of notable Labor figures, including former Premier Barrie Unsworth and more recently, Frank Sartor.  Labor held the seat continuously from 1941 until Liberal John Flowers, a former teacher, won in 2011 with a 14% swing.  Flowers currently sits on a margin of 3.6% and faces a strong challenge from the 2011 Labor candidate Steve Kamper.  Kamper is currently a senior partner in local firm Kamper Chartered Accountants.
 
For more information see the NSW Electoral Commission and the ABC.
 
Current Candidates:
 
  • John Flowers, Liberal Party
  • Steve Kamper, Australian Labor Party
  • Madeleina Snowdon, Greens


BIOGRAPHIES - The Treasury Portfolio
The Hon. Andrew Constance MP
Treasurer
Member for Bega (NSW)
Member of the Legislative Assembly
Liberal Party of Australia
 
Andrew Constance was first elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly as the Member for Bega in 2003.  He was subsequently re-elected in 2007 and 2011.  He became the NSW Treasurer under Premier Mike Baird in April 2014.
 
In late 2006, Constance was elevated to the Coalition frontbench as both Shadow Minister for Ageing and Shadow Minister for Disability Services.  He retained these portfolios after the Coalition won government in 2011 and became Minister for Ageing and for Disability Services.  Constance became the Minister for Finance and Services in a Ministerial reshuffle following the resignation of Greg Pearce in August 2013, a position he held until his elevation to Treasurer following Barry O’Farrell’s surprise resignation as Premier.
 
Prior to parliament, Constance was a corporate affairs consultant with Microsoft for three years and also worked as a government relations adviser for a number of industry bodies.  Constance was president of the NSW Young Liberals from 2000 until 2001.
 
Andrew Constance is engaged to Jennifer Clarke and has a daughter from a previous marriage.
The Hon. Michael Daley MP
Shadow Treasurer
Shadow Minister for Roads and Freight
Member for Maroubra (NSW)
Member of the Legislative Assembly
Australian Labor Party
 
Michael Daley was first elected as the Member for Maroubra at a 2005 by-election following the resignation of former NSW Premier Bob Carr.  Daley has since been re-elected in 2007 and 2011.  He currently serves as Shadow Treasurer and the Shadow Minister for Roads and Freight.
 
Daley was appointed to his first parliamentary position in 2007, as the Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Treasurer, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Roads.  He then went on to serve as Minister for Roads; Finance; and Police.  Daley has also served as Shadow Minister for Finance and Services and Shadow Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
 
Prior to his career in politics, Daley was a customs officer with the Australian Customs Service for 13 years.  He later studied law and was admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW as a legal practitioner in 1998, and went on to work as a senior corporate lawyer for NRMA for five years.  Daley also served as a Councillor on Randwick City Council for 13 years, including four years as Deputy Mayor.
 
He is married with four children.
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