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NSW election on knife’s-edge in final week countdown

Pre-poll opens in NSW ahead of state election

A late resurgence in the polls by Premier Dominic Perrottet and the Coalition has set the scene for a nail-biting final week in the NSW election campaign.

The latest Resolve Political Monitor poll shows Labor and the Coalition neck and neck on 38 per cent of the primary vote, with the government gaining six points since February’s poll.

Mr Perrottet gained ground as preferred premier, appealing to 40 per cent of those surveyed compared to Opposition Leader Chris Minns who remained steady on 37 per cent.

The poll indicates a 4.5 per cent swing to Labor, meaning the party is still tracking to end the Coalition’s 12 years in power but will likely need support from independent crossbenchers to form government.

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, the poll surveyed 1000 voters from Tuesday to Sunday last week. It followed the Liberal Party’s campaign launch, when Mr Perrottet unveiled his plan for a subsidised superannuation-style savings fund for children.

Amid an ongoing tussle over the state’s toll roads, the Coalition has meanwhile announced that if elected it will raise the speed limit on WestConnex to 90km/h, saying it will boost productivity by $80 million a year.

The change would be subject to a safety review conducted by Transport for NSW after the election. If successful, it could also mean other motorways raised their current cap from 80km/h.

“Increasing the speed limit in WestConnex would mean drivers spend less time on the road and more time doing the things most important to them,” Mr Perrottet said.

Labor continued its attack on privatisation, saying a re-elected Coalition would sell off assets, including Sydney Water, despite Mr Perrottet ruling it out.

Mr Minns said Mr Perrottet couldn’t be trusted not to pursue further sales, pointing to a tweet prior to the 2018 election in which he said there were no plans to privatise WestConnex, which was subsequently sold.

“I’ve got a challenge for him. Back Labor’s plan to put Sydney Water into the NSW constitution,” Mr Minns said.

Labor’s proposal would ensure any future sales of public assets need to be approved by parliament.

Mr Perrottet also trumpeted the Coalition’s $116 billion infrastructure pipeline over the next four years, boasting that it continued “the biggest building program since federation”.

“Saturday’s vote will decide the future of the NSW economy,” he said.

“You and your family will be worse under Labor because they can’t manage money well … they will come after your budget,” he said in his pitch to voters.

“We need to continue to build, we need to continue to grow the economy … that grows the budget, increases revenue that allows us to invest in things that matter”.

When pushed on NSW’s debt, which is projected to reach $187 billion, and if a ceiling on spending would be reached, Mr Perrottet said it would remain “sustainable and affordable”.

Elsewhere, the Public Health Association has condemned Labor for its plan to trial cashless gaming on just 500 poker machines.

The Coalition will ban cash on the state’s 86,000 machines by 2028 but Labor says more evidence is required before it’s mandated.

“We are extremely disappointed Labor is refusing to realise the opportunity to protect the health and wellbeing of their communities who are being crushed by the gambling industry,” the association’s state president Kate McBride said.

“Labor’s current gambling policy is a disappointing dud worthy of a red light.”

– AAP

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