SYDNEY – Australia’s most populous state will vote for a new government on Saturday with most opinion polls showing a close-run election with the opposition centre-left Labor party ahead of the ruling conservative coalition by a narrow margin.
New South Wales (NSW), the home state of one-third of Australians, could face a hung parliament with a minority Labor government in power, meaning they must reach consensus with cross-bench members on key issues.
Voting at around 2,000 polling booths opens at 8am local time (5am Singapore time) and will close at 6pm local time, with initial results expected by late Saturday evening.
The Liberal-National coalition have managed to tighten the gap in the final stretch of the campaign but Labor leads on a two-party preferred basis 53-47 per cent, a poll by the Australian Financial Review out earlier this week showed.
Undecided voters are warming to Labor, which must add 10 seats to its current tally of 37 to form a majority in the Lower House. The poll said Labor could win up to six more seats.
Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged voters in his home state to elect a Labor government, saying the current coalition government was “in shambles” due to infighting.
A Guardian poll on Tuesday showed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet holding a slim 36-33 per cent lead over opposition Labor leader Chris Minns as the state’s preferred leader, but it said the election policies of both parties had done little to sway or excite voters.
Mr Perrottet, a social conservative Catholic and former state treasurer, was elected premier in October 2021 after his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian resigned after a corruption watchdog said it was investigating whether she was involved in conduct that “constituted or involved a breach of public trust”.
Mr Perrottet oversaw the brisk reopening of the state from COVID-19 restrictions in a bid to revive the state’s economy that is larger than Singapore, Thailand or Malaysia. REUTERS