Labor leader Chris Minns emerged victorious in the final debate before the New South Wales election, beating out almost half of the 100 undecided members of the audience, compared to the 32 who voted for Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet.
The two leaders made their final bids to woo the people of NSW as the March 25 election fast approaches.
Head-to-head on Sky News/The Daily Telegraph People’s Forum, members of the audience and moderator Chris O’Keefe grilled leaders on the rising cost of living, among other topics.
Of 100 undecided voters, 48 said they had been influenced to vote Opposition, 32 chose the Coalition, and 20 remained undecided.
CASH SPLASH PLEDGES
The cost of living was a major topic of questioning from the audience, and both leaders were asked what support they would be offering if elected.
Perrottet rattled off a list of benefits he would provide families if the Liberal Party were elected to a fourth term on Saturday, including lowering the limit on public transport costs from $50 to $40 per week, and a reduction of $250 on ‘every power bill in NSW’.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns (left) emerged victorious over Prime Minister Dominick Perrottet (right) after the final debate before the state election.
The Labor leader reminded voters of his promised $60 toll cost cap, increased stamp duty threshold and energy rebate for small businesses, but said it was his party’s commitment to halt asset sales. public, which would make the biggest difference.
“I think the best thing we can do for the long-term future of the cost of living in New South Wales is to stop the privatization madness,” he said.
MINNS APPLAUDED HEALTH
With both leaders invited to ask each other a question, Minns asked if the prime minister “regretted” his decision to freeze the wages of essential workers such as nurses and paramedics.
Perrottet said it was a “difficult” decision, required during the pandemic.
“That’s why our state was able to navigate through the year,” he said.
Minns disputed his response, blaming Perrottet’s decision on an exodus of health care workers.
‘It was wrong. Now she has doubled down on it,” she said.
The response seemed to resonate with the audience, to some applause.
Chris Minns (pictured) was applauded for rebutting Mr. Perottet’s claim that freezing wages for essential workers was a “difficult” decision, but it allowed the state to navigate through the pandemic.
GRILLED PREMIER IN FIRST MOMENTS
In the first question on Wednesday night’s Sky News/The Daily Telegraph People’s Forum, Perrottet was questioned by a member of the public about the privatisation.
Audience member Kim asked the prime minister if he would buy back state assets that had been sold to private companies.
You keep selling our assets. You’re clearly still spending money, which worries me that they don’t know how to budget properly,” Kim asked.
While Perrottet assured the audience that the government had no plans to sell more assets and noted the government’s AAA credit rating, the response was not good enough for Kim.
Dissatisfied with Perrottet’s response, Kim bought the tolls.
Perrottet was questioned early in Wednesday’s debate on privatization. Perrottet defended the sale of the state’s turnpikes, such as WestConnex, saying that “the freeways had made a real difference” (Pictured, Minns and Perrottet shake hands in final debate)
Perrottet defended the sale of the state’s turnpikes, such as WestConnex, saying that “the freeways had made a real difference.”
“WestConnex ensures that people can go to work and spend more time with their families,” he said.
The prime minister received no help from his adversary, who spent much of his campaign pointing out the Liberal Party’s poor record on privatization.
Opposition leader Chris Minns told the crowd that tolls were crippling families, especially those without access to public transport.
“It is important to note that the entire M8 could be paid for eight times over, as a result of the revenue going into the privatized toll company,” he said.
MINNS BEATS SALARY CAP VOTE
The first two questions, on privatization and the New South Wales public health system, have been tilted in Labour’s favour.
A maternity ward nurse asked what each leader would do to help the state’s public hospitals, noting that she had seen overcrowding in maternity wards and stating that “all women” who gave birth in the last five years had “a terror story”.
In response, Mr. Minns was reiterated his commitment to remove the salary cap for public service workers.
During the debate, both leaders answered questions from 100 undecided voters (Pictured: Dominic Perrotter speaking during the last debate before the state election)
However, the debate quickly turned to the budgetary cost of lifting the cap.
On Monday, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) found that a 1 percent increase to the current 3 percent limit could cost $2.6 billion to the state budget if the move could not be offset. with other savings as promised by the Labor Party, something Perrottet was quick to remind the audience.
“When you have a major budget cost that you can’t reclaim, that’s going to cost NSW taxpayers,” said Mr Perrottet.
“What Chris has done is raise the salaries of public servants without telling anyone how much it would cost.”
THE DISCUSSION BEGINS
Wednesday night’s debate is the last time Perrottet and Minns will face each other before the important Election Day on March 25.
During the debate, both leaders will answer questions from 100 undecided voters.
Perrottet and Minns wore dark suits with a white shirt and light blue tie. Before the debate began, they spent some time shaking hands and getting to know the audience.
Minns began his election campaign with a promise to fix the state’s hospital and education systems and remove the public service salary cap.
Mr. Perrottet highlighted the infrastructure achievements of the Coalition and the government’s Kid’s Future Fund.
As of Wednesday 12pm, the NSW Electoral Commission says 638,484 votes have been cast in pre-vote booths, plus 28,788 returned postal ballots (pictured: Dominic Perrottet)
In the same debate before the 2019 state election, the lackluster performance of then-opposition leader Michael Daley was blamed for Labor’s fall at the polls.
When asked about Tafe’s education and funding policies for the opposition, he stumbled upon figures promised by his party.
Days later, then-Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian led the Coalition to its third term in government.
Sky News Australia’s chief newscaster Kieran Gilbert will moderate the forum on Wednesday night, in the key fringe seat of Penrith, held by Liberal MP Stuart Ayres and challenged by Labor candidate Karen McKeown.
As of Wednesday 12:00pm, the New South Wales Electoral Commission says 638,484 votes have been cast in pre-vote booths, plus 28,788 returned postal ballots.
5,521,688 voters are expected to cast their ballots in this election.
The cost of living was a common topic among audience members, who were undecided on their vote (Pictured: NSW Labor leader Chris Minns and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet shake hands during televised debate)