ALEX MITCHELL. Gladys clings on in NSW

Liberals and Nationals will vote in all kinds of weather and in all circumstances. They will show up in coaches, hire cars and even wheelchairs. Some dress up in their Sunday best as if they are going to the races.

Their determination to vote is filled with irony because conservatives fought relentlessly against universal suffrage. They argued that the extension of voting rights to all adults over 21, men and women, would mean the end of civilisation as we know it. They said the same thing about gay marriage and now they’re denying climate change.

In Saturday’s State Election in NSW, I expect supporters of the Coalition parties to vote loyally for Premier Gladys Berijiklian’s platform of “Let us keep building for jobs and growth”.

In normal election cycles, her manifesto would be an election winner. But Ms Berejiklian’s infrastructure spending has faced community resistance, street protests and neighbourhood anger.

Last December, NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford provided devastating evidence that spending on roads, tunnels, trains and light rail was over-budget and over-deadlines. In flashing red lights, the Auditor-General signalled: “Government incompetence”.

Now let’s cut to NSW Labor. Under novice leader, Michael Daley, the ALP is holding up in the polls. The support is coming voters who were always going to vote Labor, mainly trade unionists, but is the Opposition capturing the middle-of-the-road, swinging voters?

There are plenty of people furious with Coalition spending on new football stadiums, WestConnex, the transfer of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, vast spending on Royal Randwick and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and the theft of property from the Royal Botanic Gardens to rebuild the NSW Art Gallery as Sydney Modern. But will their obvious fury turn into votes for Labor?

I am ignoring the newspaper polls because they are utterly discredited. They are designed to turn Saturday’s poll into a nail-biting contest when internal party polling paints a different picture.

Are the baseball bats out for Ms Berejiklian? Not where I live in far northern NSW. Voters in my neck of the woods appear to be waiting for the Federal Election in May to give the Coalition a real battering.

I expect voter turnout to be low and the number of spoiled ballot papers to be a record high.

FINAL CALL: The NSW Coalition will cling to office but a hung parliament remains a distinct possibility. Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, led in NSW by former Labor leader Mark Latham, David Leyonhjelm’s Liberal Democratic Party [it is neither Liberal nor Democratic nor
a Party) and Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives will be smashed.
Fred Nile’s anti-abortion and anti-environment Christian Democratic Party will
be cut in half.

Alex Mitchell is a former Sun-Herald political editor. His blog is at www.cometherevolution.com.au

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Alex Mitchell is a former Sydney Sun-Herald State Political Editor whose commentary appears every Friday. His latest book is Murder in Melbourne – The Untold Story of Palestinian exchange student Aiia Maasarwe.

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