Consequent upon the article “My call on the Victorian November election” published on Thursday the first of November last year, I promised a similar article for New South Wales. In this article I keep that promise. My problem has been that of promising both the Melbourne and Sydney newspapers concerned that they would get first call on my predictions.
Anyway, my predictions article was published last Saturday in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. It was published on pages 32 and 33 of Saturday Extra and included my pendulum. In this article I do not intend to repeat the seat-by-seat details set out there, except to say the following: the Berejiklian government will be re-elected and will be a majority government. On the two-party preferred vote percentages overall, it will be 51 to 49 the Coalition’s way. Last time it was 54.3 to 45.7.
I am aware that the latest opinion poll has the vote the other way round to my prediction. In the Sun-Herald on Sunday 10 March (the day after my Telegraph article was published), the poll shows 51 for Labor and 49 for the Coalition. My comment on that is to point this out: in Victoria there was a 5% swing to the Andrews government in the last fortnight of the campaign. Admittedly, that was a Labor government. However, if there could be a 5% swing to Andrews I can see no reason why there would not be a 2% swing to Berejiklian.
So let me quote to you the second paragraph of my Telegraph article. It reads: “At the time of writing the bookmakers had Labor in front – but I pay even less attention to them than I do to opinion polls! The actual numbers are $1.77 for Labor and $2 for Liberal-National.”
By the way, let me quote the third paragraph of the Sun-Herald article: “Exclusive polling for the Sun-Herald gives Labor a two-point lead, though many voters are still not convinced the ALP has spent enough time in Opposition. More than 48 per cent say Labor is not ready to govern, while just over 43 per cent say it is.”
In the outgoing Legislative Assembly, the Coalition had 52 seats, Labor 34 and the Greens three. That meant the Coalition had a majority of 15 seats over the combined parties of the left. However, in addition to those 37 sitting on the Opposition benches, there were three independents plus a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in Orange. So the absolute majority for the Coalition was 11 seats.
My prediction for the election on Saturday 23 March is 48 for the Coalition and 45 for all the rest combined. Of that 45, the Labor number would (on my prediction) be 39. So the overall Coalition majority would be three seats.
Unlike that article (which was a detailed description of seats) this piece will give the broad reasons why I am confident of Berejiklian’s success.
My reasons begin with the strength of the economy whereby New South Wales has the strongest economy in the country. Coming second in my reasoning is the simple fact of many people referring to Labor under Michael Daley as being “same old Labor.” When the next election rolls around in March 2023, Labor will have lost the damage to its reputation done by the last NSW Labor government. Not this time, however.
Gladys Berejiklian became Premier in 2017. Unfortunately for her, however, she developed a reputation for being a weak leader who did not know what she was doing. Yet the stadiums policy (for which she has been much criticised) has brought out the best in her. She now comes across as decisive. While Daley can say she is arrogant, there is another side to that coin: decisiveness. She has gone ahead with the demolition and there is nothing he can do to stop her. She is not going to allow the election to be a referendum on stadiums. To do so would be to contest the election on his terms.
It is being widely written that she has adopted a strategy to crash or crash through. I believe historians will record that she succeeded in crashing through.
Malcolm Mackerras is Honorary Fellow of Australian Catholic University. firstname.lastname@example.org