After it became clear she would retain power in New South Wales, a triumphant Premier Gladys Berejiklian last night declared: “The Liberal Party will not concede a single seat loss in this election. In fact in some of our seats we’ve had a swing to the government.”
She said she was proud to be in a state where a person someone with “a long surname, and a woman” could be elected to lead.
National Party losses to an emerging Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, with the vote count still to take days, will determine if the government holds a majority in the lower house or is forced to govern in a minority scenario.
But regardless of the precise outcome it is clear the Coalition will govern, perhaps with a still-to-be negotiated undertaking of confidence from independents Greg Piper in Lake Macquarie, Joe McGirr in Wagga Wagga and Alex Greenwich in Sydney.
With a statewide swing to Labor way below that predicted by pre-election polls, the Coalition was able to hold most Liberal-held Sydney seats to withstand any National Party seat losses, which may be confirmed in rural and regional NSW.
Labor rationalised its poor result to the loss of momentum in the final week of the campaign, including an embarrassing video that forced Labor leader Michael Daley to apologise for having said that “Asians with PhDs” were moving in to take jobs from locals.
Ms Berejiklian will become the state’s first re-elected female premier, leading the Liberal Party into a third term – the first for a non-Labor government since the Askin years in the 1970s.
Significantly, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stepped forward at the NSW Liberal Party election celebration to conspicuously congratulate Ms Berejiklian for delivering for the Liberal Party brand.
Ms Berejiklian said she and state Liberals “will do everything possible” to support Mr Morrison’s re-election in the coming federal election.
In other notable results from the vote, the NSW Greens retained their lower house and upper house seats despite open faction fighting within the party.
Both the Labor and Liberal parties have conceded the stronger votes for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and One Nation in the seats they contested indicated a deep-seated disaffection with the major parties.
The disaffection has been exacerbated by the devastating drought in rural NSW, with distress over fish kills in the Darling River and a sense of neglect of the bush, with big capital works – including the contentious demolition and re-building of the Allianz stadium – focused chiefly on Sydney.
Liberal strategists told The New Daily the party had to go all out to discredit Mr Daley in the final week of the campaign after he started to gain traction over the Allianz stadium issue.
The party blitzed prime time TV with ads demonising Mr Daley.
Labor was decimated in NSW politics in 2011 after the Independent Commission Against Corruption exposed corruption involving Labor party powerbokers.
While there were many complaints about the O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian governments since 2011, particularly over greater Sydney’s seemingly insoluble congestion, the Coalition government’s big spending on public transport may emerge as the crucial policy that secured its survival.