Are you ready to vote? Here’s what’s been promised to tackle the key issues of the 2023 election campaign.
As the New South Wales election campaign enters its final hours, the contest between the Coalition and Labor is shaping up to be tight contest. Premier Dominic Perrottet is vying for a record fourth term for the Coalition, while opposition leader Chris Minns is attempting to lead Labor to government for this first time in 12 years.
The campaign has primarily focussed on western Sydney, where both parties are going head-to-head for seven crucial electorates, including East Hills, Holsworthy, Leppington, Parramatta, Penrith, Riverstone and Winston Hills.
Despite the strong focus on the west, the Centre for Western Sydney anticipates just one third of the expected 4.7 million voters who will make their decision on Saturday 25 March will be in Western Sydney.
The key themes of the election spruiked in Sydney’s west, rising cost of living, rental costs and availability, and education, will heavily influence votes across the entire state, including in regional and rural New South Wales.
Rental crisis answers
The most recent rental figures show vacancy rates across regional and rural New South Wales remain extremely tight, with most areas recording drops in the month leading to February this year.
Real Estate Institute of New South Wales CEO Tim McKibbin says the rental situation as the worst it’s been in more than a decade.
“We haven’t seen a rental market like this for more than 12 years. Calling it a rental ‘crisis’ just doesn’t seem to adequately describe what’s happening in the market and the turmoil, pain and stress that is being experienced by everyone involved – tenants, landlords and property managers,” he said last month.
For renters who are securing housing away from the cities, they are likely to be paying more. Recent rental figures from the Domain Group show rental prices in some regional towns including Armidale, Broken Hill and Cessnock have increased by more than 10% in the year to December 2022.
Both major parties have attempted to tackle the rental housing crisis through new policies pitched to voters in the lead up to the election. If re-elected, Liberals and Nationals would move introduce a package to provide further protection for renters which would include extending notice periods for end of term leases from 30 days to 45, the option for three and five year lease agreement terms, and a roll-over bond scheme to reduce the financial burden of moving homes.
Labor will match the rollover bond scheme if elected, legislate against rent bidding, and appoint a rental commissioner to advocate for renters. Both parties have also signed on to their own form of ending no-grounds evictions.
An independent body to control rents and landlords has been earmarked by the Greens who are also pushing for a rental freeze.
How to tackle the rising cost of living
Alongside sky-rocketing rents, both major parties are attempting to ease the rising cost of living which has taken hold due to rising inflation and routine interest rates hikes. Labor’s pitched a plan to abolish the public sector wage cap which has been in place since 2011 but the move has been strongly criticised by the Coalition who claims the move would be financially irresponsible.
A Liberal and Nationals government would instead move to slash household energy bills by $250. The rebate would be available to those who compare energy providers.
Regional and rural health service shortages
An additional 500 paramedics would be deployed in rural and regional New South Wales under a Labor Government to help curb the critical health crisis. Labor claims it would also appoint a new senior bureaucrat to oversee health outside of metro areas.
Health care shortages are peaking across the state; figures from the NSW Rural Doctors Network show the number of rural generalists has more than halved in the last 10 years.
The Perrottet-led Government has promised $883 million to direct nurses, doctors and other health professionals to rural and regional New South Wales. Three regional hospitals would be redeveloped under the Coalition’s plan to splash $11.9 billion on new and upgraded hospitals across New South Wales.
There have been many education announcements and counter announcements about education, despite little interest from voters.
The Liberal and National’s major education policy is the promise of a year of free pre-kindergarten education for all four-year-olds in the state by 2030. To do that, they’re bringing forward an existing project to build 500 new pre-schools across the state co-located at primary schools. Labor is promising to build 100 new public pre-schools and upgrade a further 50.
Both parties are also offering more teachers – Liberals and Nationals are offering 15,000 teachers and support staff permanent positions in 2023, while Labor is offering 10,000 teaching positions to be made permanent. Both parties have also committed to reduce teacher workloads,
Labor’s big promise to try and recruit and retain more teachers is to remove the public service wages cap for teachers, permitting higher wages through negotiations. The Liberal and Nationals big idea was to change the post-graduate degree from teaching from the current two year Master’s back to a single year program, a policy which has received a major blow on the eve of the election, being rejected by a panel of experts.
When and where to vote
You can pre-poll vote today, between 8.30am and 6pm, at a limited number of places in the major towns. All the booths will be open tomorrow between 9am and 6pm.
Want to know who is running? Read our meet the candidates stories.