Labor Hits Winnable Seats as Liberals Sandbag NSW Heartland

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
March 24, 2023Updated: March 24, 2023

Premier Dominic Perrottet has rocketed through marginal electorates, while Labor opponent Chris Minns spent time in the driver’s seat on the final day of campaigning before the NSW election.

Both leaders on Friday focused efforts on seats cutting through Sydney’s west, where a number of key seats are likely to decide Saturday’s election.

After a night at the Ramadan markets in Lakemba, Minns began Friday pre-dawn at the Sydney Markets before meeting railyard workers in Auburn to spruik Labor’s plan to rebuild domestic manufacturing.

The Labor leader dipped into a greengrocer, interrupted morning coffee dates and patted Zoe the dog in Eastwood before dropping into the new public square in Parramatta, a key brick in the party’s potential path to victory.

“The only way to change the government in NSW is to vote Labor. Cast a positive vote for change,” he said in a final pitch to undecided voters on Friday.

The premier meanwhile shot through six electorates tossing down political sandbags in the hopes of retaining marginal Liberal seats.

Perrottet met Liberal candidate Tina Ayyad in Holsworthy (6.0 per cent margin) before hitting the hustings in East Hills (0.1 percent), Ryde (8.9 percent) and Minns’ own Kogarah (0.1 percent).

The premier parked up at Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre with local MP and former minister Stuart Ayres to reiterate 10 new indoor basketball courts would be funded through the $5 billion Westinvest program.

With Labor reallocating funds to other projects, Mr Ayres said community club members who would benefit from a WestInvest project only had “one choice” on Saturday.

“Chris Minns wants to rip it out of the heart of every single kid and family who comes to this centre every single week,” he said.

Mr Minns said $3b in WestInvest funds yet to be spent would rebuild critical infrastructure in western Sydney, including schools, hospitals and transport.

“Our priority is health, and in particular, the physical infrastructure for hospitals in western Sydney,” he said.

The Parliamentary Budget Office also weighed in, saying the Liberal Party had misrepresented it over a claim Labor was cutting $2b from the fund.

“The ALP’s proposals would mean a reallocation of priorities within WestInvest, not a cut to the fund,” it said.

Perrottet’s first stop was at a pre-polling booth in the marginal lower north shore Sydney seat of Willoughby, where he greeted voters with local MP Tim James.

The seat, previously held by former premier Gladys Berejiklian, was once considered blue ribbon territory for the Liberals and faces a strong challenge from independent candidate Larissa Penn.

“(Gladys) has been a great servant to the people of Willoughby, and Tim has followed very well in (her) footsteps,” Perrottet said.

The premier also showed support for North Shore backbencher Felicity Wilson, who is battling to stave off a threat from teal independent Helen Conway.

The Liberals have also faced credible challenges in four other north shore seats, redirecting resources from its western Sydney flank.

Minns said he sensed there was a mood for change but expected the election would come down to the wire.

He had done enough to convince Eastwood local Dilak, 55, to give Labor his vote on Saturday.

The father of three wants to see whoever wins government do more to address housing supply and affordability.

“There are a lot of Australians who have toiled for this country, and even they are struggling, especially single women,” he told AAP.

“I can’t think of housing for my children unless we help them. But it shouldn’t be that way.”