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Labor majority at risk as Liberals pull ahead in crucial seat

Chris Minns becomes NSW's 47th premier

The Liberals have pulled ahead in the crucial seat of Terrigal, as counting continues in the NSW election.

Liberals were ahead by 40 votes late on Monday afternoon, making the seat too close to call with 65 per cent of votes counted.

It had previously been called for Labor.

Terrigal is one of 12 seats hanging in the balance after Saturday’s election. The doubt on Monday left Labor with a likely 46 seats, one short of the 47 it needs for a majority.

Other seats where a result is yet to firm up include Kiama, Miranda and Ryde, where Labor is ahead. It also remained a chance in Drummoyne, Goulburn, Holsworthy and Oatley, ABC election analyst Antony Green told ABC Radio on Monday.

Earlier, Premier-elect Chris Minns was out, flagging the highest priorities for his incoming government.

He had been tipped to lead a majority government with at least 47 seats as the Liberal Party looks for a new leader after Dominic Perrottet stepped down following Saturday’s election loss.

Mr Minns and senior members of his Labor team will be sworn in by Governor Margaret Beazley on Tuesday. The wider ministry will be sworn in as the full results of Saturday’s vote become known.

The first item on Mr Minns’ agenda was “a tonne of reading” of briefs from the outgoing Coalition government about the state of the NSW budget, followed by action to fulfil his promise to scrap the public sector wages cap.

“Every other state in Australia doesn’t have a wages cap in place,” he told 2GB on Monday.

“We think that we can have a sensible resolution and we’ve got to start that process.

“Then our immediate priority is to turn around results in emergency departments.

“It’s going to be a rocky road. The challenges are immense.”

On Monday he flagged a major change to prevent future governments from selling off assets such as Sydney Water.

“Our first piece of legislation will be to protect Sydney Water in the NSW constitution,” he tweeted.

Privatisation was a major issue in the NSW election, amid revelations the former Liberal government had explored the potential of selling off Sydney Water.

“It’s a lock, to make sure future governments don’t sell [Sydney Water] off,” Mr Minns told 2GB

He also said his government would “never ever sell those essential assets”.

Vote counting gathers pace

ABC election analyst Antony Green said vote counting on Monday would probably firm up the likely outcome of the dozen seats in doubt.

The election featured a swing of about 6 per cent to Labor, which was dwarfed by the 16 per cent swing against the party when it lost government in 2011.

“It’s taken Labor three elections to recover from the drubbing in 2011,” Mr Green said.

Independents threaten in the blue-ribbon Liberal seats of Willoughby and Pittwater, but it’s likely the major-party candidates will prevail after absentee votes are counted.

The Greens will likely hold off a strong Labor challenge in Balmain while the Liberal-held seat of Wollondilly will probably fall to independent Judy Hannan.

One experienced minister headed for the door, David Elliott, said the Liberal Party shouldn’t gnash teeth after “12 cracking years” but needed to better define itself.

He pointed to Penrith, Camden and Wollondilly, where substantial One Nation primary votes “cost” the Liberal incumbents.

One Nation experienced small swings in those seats, having backed up from a strong showing in 2019.

“We just need to put some stakes in the ground, we need to map out exactly where the parish is and that needs to be defined a little bit better,” Mr Elliott told 2GB.

“One Nation didn’t get the high vote that some were saying but they certainly cost us seats in western Sydney.”

Former cabinet minister Stuart Ayres and the Liberal Party are holding out hope he can hang onto Penrith on Sydney’s western fringe.

Labor’s Karen McKeown maintains a 2.5 per cent margin with 54 per cent of the count complete.

Mr Ayres was considered a contender to succeed Mr Perrottet, along with current deputy and former treasurer Matt Kean. Mr Kean ruled himself out of the contest on Sunday, saying he wanted to “hang out and be a dad” to his three-year-old son.

Other potential candidates include former attorney-general Mark Speakman, outgoing enterprise, investment and trade minister Alister Henskens and former planning minister Anthony Roberts.

-with AAP

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