The NSW Coalition claimed victory in a landslide win at the state election on Saturday, with leader Barry O’Farrell becoming the first Liberal Premier of the state in 16 years.
Labor was wiped out in its worst electoral defeat in 110 years, winning just 19 of 93 lower house seats. The Coalition has secured 67 seats, with four undecided.
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The Coalition’s record win comes as no real surprise, with now-former Premier Kristina Keneally attracting poor voter satisfaction ratings months before the election.
In his first press conference, O’Farrell said: ”It is a trust that people have put in us. It’s a trust that we’re determined to deliver on.”
“And we will ensure that the cynics in the crowd, that people who are sceptical, that people who have voted for us for the first time do understand by the next election that we have kept the faith, that we have delivered for them.”
A day before voters went to the polls, the Coalition said its election promises would not add “an additional dollar of debt” to the state’s finances.
Mike Baird, now the NSW Treasurer, released the Coalition’s election costings late last week, claiming the Coalition will improve the state budget’s bottom line by $11 million over the next four years.
The Coalition says a total saving of $2.6 billion will be achieved by deferring the Parramatta to Epping rail link and the city relief line, while merging the state’s three electricity companies into two is expected to deliver a saving of $240 million.
Baird would not confirm whether any jobs will be lost as a result of the budget cuts. However, the Coalition is planning to establish a “Restart New South Wales Fund” to pay for a major road project in addition to other infrastructure in regional and mining communities.
The Coalition has promised to establish a small business commissioner to serve as an advocate for the small business sector, making it the fourth state to do so after Victoria, South Australia and WA.
O’Farrell said in a statement the Coalition has devised a small business action plan, which includes cutting red tape, reforming business licensing and reducing legislative risk.
The Coalition has also promised to increase opportunities for international trade and export, and has called for more transparency in government.
In the lead-up to the election, NSW unions vowed to wage a long-term war over privatisation and job cuts if the Coalition claimed victory.
Under the slogan “No answers, no mandate”, Unions NSW argued O’Farrell failed to articulate his intentions for the state’s public sector during the election campaign.
Unions claim the Coalition has not ruled out privatising prisons, outsourcing aged and disability home care or cutting public service jobs.
Under Labor, NSW referred coverage of its private sector workforce to Labor’s national Fair Work laws, with the Coalition unlikely to reverse that position.
O’Farrell has said he will refer the state’s powers over OHS regulation to the Federal Government. Labor initially agreed to do so, but Keneally reversed that stance after union lobbying.
Business groups have criticised the state’s workplace laws, arguing they place a reverse onus of proof on employers to prove they are not at fault, and allow unions to initiate prosecutions.
Workplace law expert Andrew Steward says the Coalition will have to decide whether to transfer coverage of state public servants and local government to the Federal system.