NSW election: On home turf, they (mostly) still love Gladys

Balmoral Beach, in NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's Willoughby electorate (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“Labor hasn’t put forward a strong enough reason to change.”

That’s the view of Angela, a resident of Mosman, a well-heeled suburb in the heart of Gladys Berejiklian’s well-heeled Willoughby electorate.

On the eve of Saturday’s state election (March 22), Angela spoke for many in the North Shore seat, which has elected a Labor MP only twice in its more than a century-old history.

Ms Berejiklian, who has held the seat since 2003, winning nearly 64 per cent of the primary vote at the 2015 state election, can be confident of staying on as the local member.

She must be less confident, though, of retaining the top job in NSW, with recent polls showing the Liberals and Labor deadlocked at 50-50, on a two-party preferred basis. Few experts believe she will lead another majority government after tomorrow’s vote – the best she can hope for is minority rule with the support of minor parties and Independents.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

No one is ruling out a Labor victory, either, despite Opposition leader Michael Daley’s poor performance in the final days of the campaign. The Liberals have been in power for eight years (albeit with Ms Berejiklian at the helm for only two years), and there is a whiff of an appetite for change in the air.

Not so much in Willoughby, though. Emerging from a coffee shop on bustling Military Road, in Neutral Bay, a voter named Ursula said: “I’m not impressed with Labor on a state or federal level at all.

“My views are more conservative, so I’m all about looking after the local economy and small businesses. I’m also concerned with education, health and infrastructure.”

The Greens ran second in Willoughby in 2015, scoring an admittedly modest nearly 16 per cent of the primary vote. However, you didn’t have to look too far to find Greens voters today.

Michael, from Cremorne, said:

“I’m concerned about issues around refugees on Nauru, and I want it to be addressed. That’s why I’ll be voting for the Greens.”

While Ms Berejiklian has only had two years to convince NSW voters of her leadership talents, Mr Daley became state Labor leader only last November, following the departure of Luke Foley amid sexual assault allegations.

Nearly 5.3 million people are enrolled to vote tomorrow at more than 8,000 voting stations.

@samanthahand0, editing by @kathymarksoz