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Fresh Start for NSW: Premier Chris Minns Temporarily Extends Labor’s National Outreach

By Denis Bright

The NSW election results were a historical milestone in Australia’s political history. Labor is in control of both the federal government and each of the mainland states and territories. Only Tasmania currently lies outside the national loop of Labor hegemony which will be tested again before mid-2025 in that state as well as in forthcoming elections in Queensland, WA and the ACT.

In welcoming the result, both Prime Minister Albanese and Premier Minns promised to work diligently to advance contemporary concerns such as a greater voice for indigenous Australians and struggling families of all cultural persuasions. The Australian Labor Party in government is indeed in a new phase of rebirth with a capacity to extend its outreach by canny policies deliveries, internal consensus building and innovative political communication to a more skeptical electorate. in the future.

Australia indeed has run against the trends evident in other representative democracies where centre-left parties are largely in political retreat at least in the short-term pending electoral breakthroughs in the currently unhappy electorates in countries like France, Greece and Britain.

Basically, there is a lot of pain in neoliberal societies here and overseas. One of the greatest cheers from the assembled Labor faithful when Premier Minns gave his acceptance speech was his commitment to stop the privatization of government assets. As the investment arm of NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp), the NSW Generations Fund was built on assets derived from privatization by successive state LNP governments. This privatization continued under the reign of the outgoing state LNP government with the transfer of government assets in the Westconnex motorway project to the NSW Generations Fund.

In 2021, The West Australian announced that a cash desperate state government had managed the seed capital invested in the NSW Generations Fund established in 2018:

“Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being invested in tax havens and dictator-led nations accused of human rights abuses through a government fund established by the NSW premier, Labor says.

Shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey released documents showing where some of the money inside the NSW Treasury Corporation’s NSW Generations Fund is invested.

The opposition estimates at least $225 million is invested in countries which it says are too risky, including Russia, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Peter Hannam of The Guardian (21 October 2021) made the following comments about the investment profile of the NGF:

“A controversial New South Wales government investment fund has hundreds of millions of dollars placed in countries ranging from Angola and Russia to the Cayman Islands tax haven, according to allocations made public for the first time.

The disclosures, obtained by the Labor shadow treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, reveal that the NSW Generations Fund has 12% of its $15bn-plus investments in so-called emerging markets.

The state’s new treasurer, Matt Kean, responded to questions from Guardian Australia saying he would a commission a review of the government’s managed funds to ensure they were ‘consistent with [environmental, social and governance] principles and in ways that build a better future’.

Set up in 2018 with $10bn in seed capital by Kean’s predecessor and now premier, Dominic Perrottet, the Generations Fund was intended to be used to repay state debt. However, with the budget now deep in debt and likely to remain so for years, the fund – earmarked to expand to $90bn by 2031 – will effectively rely on borrowing to expand.”

Capital growth in the NSW Generations Fund (GGF) is marketed as a Plan for the Future (Liberal Party of NSW):

  • Growing our economy so we can create secure and well-paying jobs and pay for the services NSW needs – and we’ll do it without taxing you more.
  • Reducing the pressure on household budgets by supporting you through the current challenges, while building the foundations for your financial security.
  • Investing in our frontline services for the long-term by hiring more doctors, nurses and teachers to recover from the strain of the pandemic.
  • Building for the future with our major infrastructure projects coming online, we’ll continue to invest in the roads, rail, schools and hospitals to keep ahead of future growth.
  • Empowering local communities because if we focus on our neighbourhoods, NSW will be stronger than ever.

Regrettably, the NSW Government has divested its financial interest in the WestConnex Road Project to top up the NGF’s Debt Retirement Fund. Treasurer Matt Kean praised this initiative which will increase the toll burdens paid for by motorists. The following details were included in the Third Annual Report of the NGF which was released on 21 December 2021.

Details of the most recent achievement of the Community Services and Facilities Fund (CSFF) were not available on the Treasurer’s Media releases and the list of achievements on the NGF’s Annual Report of course ceased at 30 June 2021. Appendix 1 does list the projects in the My Community Programme by state electorate to September 2021. Some have great merit such as the registered delivery van to provide emergency food relief in the Albury Electorate. Basically, this was pork-barrelling raised to exponential levels.

The NSW Government has been highly co-operative with new federal funding initiatives from the Albanese Government. The McKell Institute in Sydney has published an article from Samantha Hutchison outline funding shortfalls for NSW under the Morrison Government (October 2022):

 

NSW Treasury established a special fund to promote infrastructure and community development in fifteen local government areas across Western Sydney. WestInvest funding will be provided to build new and improved facilities that will deliver community benefit and help turbocharge economic recovery across six areas:

  • Parks, urban spaces and green space;
  • Enhancing community infrastructure such as local sporting grounds;
  • Modernising local schools;
  • Creating and enhancing arts and cultural facilities;
  • Revitalising high-streets;
  • Clearing local traffic.

These financial intrigues assisted the NSW electorate to overlook the troubled history of NSW Labor which readers might like to research on the ICAAC web site.

As counting proceeds well beyond election day to allow for the surge in pre-polling and postal votes, there are still many seats in doubt and the prized goal of majority government has yet to be delivered by future counting as shown by the last releases from ABC News on election night. The final projections were probably a little too cautious in winding back the number of Labor seats to 45 over earlier projections of 47 seats.

It is still not certain if the NSW electorate has completely rejected the appeal of minority government from the cross-bench with every major policy item being subjected to the whims of Green and independent members. In the NSW Regions and the Legislative Council minority parties still had a field day on 25 March 2023.

The National Party’s only casualty was in the seat of Monaro. This was an epic result for a difficult to win regional seat which is of course influenced by the proximity of Queanbeyan to Canberra. Monaro is only won by Labor during the most favourable phases of the historical election cycles. The landslide to Labor in Monaro was not repeated in more marginal National Party seats such as Tweed and Upper Hunter.

Labor was largely triumphant against the Liberal Party along the Hunter-Metro Sydney-Illawarra Corridors which also extend west to the remarkable result in the seat of Blue Mountains. This seat is well covered in ABC News graphics with the sitting member Trish Doyle achieving a final result of 72.8 per cent after preferences.

In Western Sydney, Labor gained a 6 percent net swing after preferences. Only Badger’s Creek electorate offered some resistance to Labor’s campaign with the assistance of preference votes from One Nations vote of 8.5 per cent.

Mainstream politics in NSW is well nurtured by generous levels of government funding as defined by the NSW Electoral Commission for party endorsed candidates and independents in both houses of the NSW parliament. The eight-year term available to members of the NSW Legislative Council to re-elect half the chamber every four years is a colonial anachronism which offers government funding at a rate of $5.25 for each vote generated from a politically skeptical electorate.

Public funding rates have certainly not gone up as fast as real wages, housing prices and rents for struggling household across NSW.

The shadow of minority government has not been completely eclipsed from Australian political life. In government at federal and state/territory levels in mainland Australia, Labor’s tenure of government is always on trial from a volatile and difficult to please electorate. The Labor Movement’s political and trade union branches are opened to all comers.

The broader Labor Movement can welcome political dissenters back into the fold to restore greater stability to governments at all levels and less reliance on intrigues with foreign powers to the glee of military industrial complexes in Britain and the USA as commenced by the Morrison Government with its unfortunate AUKUS proposals.

Prepare for more financial instability for the next half century with new reservoirs of high-grade nuclear wastes when and if the proposed nuclear-powered submarines based in Port Kembla and other locations are pensioned off in the 2070s.

As an aside to the final results from the NSW elections, Premier Minns must work with the national Labor government to negotiate real alternatives to neoliberal financial frameworks. Half of all NSW state finances are dependent on grants and GST revenue carve-ups from Canberra. This is an agenda which the outgoing state LNP government chose to marginalize as a key public issue. Perhaps the electorate itself is more astute than our own cautious political establishment.

 

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

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27 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    We should be (Hmmn) glad, most of us, that a people’s government has been elected to oust a moneygrubbers and riggers government, but, the fabric of society is riddled with dodgy speculators, ambitious financial grabbers, insider types, redevelopers, (the NSW types in bashing down, tunnelling for money), cornering, profiteering and any lurk in sport, gamblng, fast food flogging, rigged brownshirt media muck, set piece contracts…Cost of living remains a serious problem. So, fresh start for NSW?? Consider, Japan had a fresh start in August, 1945.

  2. Patricia

    Thanks for an interesting, well-researched article.

  3. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. why are there any government monies invested anywhere except in NSW? The need for rail links between metropolitan capitals especially the two Sydney to Brisbane lines, the inland Great Northern Railway between Maitland and Wallangarra, presently terminating At Armidale NSW; and the North Coast Railway following the coast.

    The unfinancial Northern Inland Railway may suit SANTOS and Beetrooter exploit CSG under the Pilliga Scrub while they threaten to pollute the groundwater of the Great Artesian Basin, but it has yet to prove that crossing the black soil plains north of Moree is possible during/after wet weather.

    One day there may be a high speed railway between Sydney & Melbourne via Canberra, but that is as likely as the USUKA subs being delivered on budget and on time.

  4. Indigo

    This for the amazing article Denis. Great to see you get this out so quickly.

    Time to remake Australia and to give neoliberalism a miss on our next political shopping agenda in the Aston by-election. This is a really difficult seat to win. Victory in Aston next month should have the highest priority for Labor.

  5. Max Gross

    With the L/NP moving further to the far right and embracing bigotry, racism and obscurantism, all Labor had to do was occupy the centre-right to succeed. Gough would neither recognise nor be welcome in today’s Labor party.

  6. Meg

    History was made on 25 March when all the Mainland Labor states and territories joined with the Labor federal government in a display of commitment to a degree of responsible change. The electorate might indeed welcome some more radical agendas that bring supporters from minor parties back to Labor.

  7. andy56

    Max, you hit the nail on the head. Its not good for democracy with one colour ruling the whole nation, but the libs have absconded down their small government hole. Saying all labor has to do is be competant is a failure in my books. We have a whole host of challenges facing the country and what we need is radical thinking, not more of the same shit. Waiting for growth to kick off better paying jobs is an insult to our intelligence. There wont be better paying jobs, why the fuck wont they admit it !!! Some people know instinctively how to play the system and will make a bit of money, but the majority of us only ever aspire to middle class. Thats another dream worth busting too. Been there done that and it wasnt a thrill a minute i tell you. It was damn depressing.
    After 2yrs of closed borders and no immigration to speak of we find our selves with a housing shortage and so prices through the roof. A low unemployment rate that the RBA wants to increase to control inflation that is corporate driven. WTF is going on?
    I tell you what, Labor is still cellebrating their victories. They have stopped thinking about the future that is upon us. They are trying to put spit and polish on a turd that is our economy. The libs at least had no pretence that they were anything but turd droppers.

  8. Leila

    Good work Denis. Just saw your article in transit to Tenterfield on our road trip. NSW is very polarized between town and country. Country electorates like Barwon which were once Labor heartland need to be brought back to the Labor fold. I hope Chris Minns and Anthony Albanese can achieve the impossible as the fish die in the Darling and disadvantaged country people are attracted to far-right politics.

  9. Louise

    History was made in NSW: Keep up the change processes against old neoliberal ways which are favoured by corporate barons and tax evaders like Cubic of San Diego which runs the ticketing system of many Australian public transport systems. Cubic has paid no company tax here for a decade or more.

  10. Ryan

    Great research Denis on this return to Australian exceptionalism which forged a form of Australian social democracy even prior to 1901.

  11. wam

    Good job, Denis, a great read. ps Sorry Max, Gough would love the diversity of the Labor states. With the exception that each is elected by 50%+, they are individuals very different in aims and approaches. The odd one out, tassie, is fundamentally different by the fact that a pollie is elected with 16.7%

  12. rubio@central coast

    If Labor maes it across the line in Terrigal after preferences, this will be a remarkable resupt for Sam Boughton who improved Labor’s primary vote by 15 percent. Do not underestimate the capacity of the Labor Party to revitalise NSW politics. This was an awesome result locally on the Central Coast.

  13. New Voices for Change

    As the Minns Government struggles to achieve majority government from the avanachess of postal votes generated by sitting members from the previous government, the policy initiatives of the incoming government must challenge the myths created about the value of minority government from both the Greens and far-right independents. Labor’s way is for majority government with majority actions on behalf of working class people. In the old days, NSW Labor had tolerated too many double agents who also danced with lobbyists and property developers. I cannot predict the future but Ido believe that Chris Minns is a new broom.

  14. leefe

    “Australia indeed has run against the trends evident in other representative democracies where centre-left parties … ”

    There is nothing leftist about the current ALP. They are, at best, centrist.

  15. andy56

    leefe, i agree 100%. Labor is about making the system work, not about setting us up to be a shining democracy. Labor has nothing “left” in the tank so to speak. They gave us super and i dont see any movement to make retirement income the focus as it should have been when keating was in his garden.
    Its all about panel beating the wheel into shape. Teals are a one show pony. I dont see them coming up with ground breaking policies anytime soon. They are “claytons” progressives when your a lib at heart. The libs, want to do a bradbury. Who says democracy works? Just as fucked as anything else us humans have devised. Same shit, different colour.

  16. Denis Bright

    I have no problems with the comments from leefe and andy56.

    Out there in the NSW electorate of Barwon with all ths disadvantages imposed by distance, voters opted for an independent voice from the cross-bench in Roy Butler who was elected on the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Ticket in 2019. The Labor vote in Western Nsw decreased by 4.9 percent to 16 percent. The Green vote declined by 1.1 percent to 1.9 percent.

    How can Labor be radicalized, that is the question in this remote seat which was once a Labor stronghold that included Broken Hill.

    Forming new left leaning political parties which flourish under Europe’s proptional voting system at best means unstable government from the cross bench.

    In Germany, the Left Party on 4.9 percent of the vote in 2021, had its represnetation cut from 69/736 seats in the Bundestag to 30/736 when its vote failed to reach the 5 percent threshold. The combined SPD, Green, Left vote in 2021 would have been insuffient to pass legislation. The current government is stuck with a neoliberal parrtner in the FDP with 92 seats and 11.5 percent of the 2021 vote.

    Way back in 2005, the SPD, Greens and the Left could have formed government for Gerhard Schroder with a Green Left Coalition. Instead Merkel and Schroaeder formed a grand coalition. NATO probably would not have accepted a Green Left government as the US Global Alliance in a big player in domestic politics in Europe and here also. All those US nucear missiles would not be tolerated in a Green Left country.

    Long become the Ukraine crisis, air crews from so-called socialist partners in NATO like Portugal were training air crews in Eastern Europe.

    Under the different voting system in NSW and other mainland states, Labor can form majority government. As the votes in doubtful NSW seats trickle through, this might have been achieved on 25 March.

    I would certainly like to see Labor become more progressive and focused on the needs of urban and outback electorates like Barwon with all its economic, social and environmental problems.

    How can all these changes be achieved. I am all for a more proactive Labor movement. I think I am in complete agreement with leefe and andy56 on this issue.

    I try to make it happen with my articles for critical discussion. I have no respect for neoliberalism or global militarism with the US global alliance. The Hawke Government ensured that AUSMIN would always be a big player in Australian politics as Austrlaia could have followed NZ out of the Alliance over visits by nuclear powered US vessels which are likely to be carrying nuclear weapons under the Don’t Ask Won’t Tell US policies.

    Thanks for your comments which I endorse. Let’s continue to work on better solutions to these agreed upon problems.

  17. Burleigh Waters

    Thanks Denis for explaining that you maintain a very independent critical viewpoint Denis in your writing. Personally, I like your independent approach to issues
    while still supporting the goals of the broader Labor Movement as a MEAA member. There is no conflict of interest here as you write within MEAA ethical guidelines.

  18. rubio@central coast

    So Burleigh Waters, why is the Gold Coast so far-right at federal and state levels, when the Central Coast has a federal Labor member in Robertson, NSW state Labor members in Gosford and The Entrance plus a line-ball result in Terrigal after last Saturday’s election here? Same ocean, same surf but quite different politics in NSW?

  19. andy56

    rubio, its one of the querks of nature. stupidity isnt evenly distributed. hahahahaha

  20. Burleigh Waters

    Surely, it is not stupidity to seek majority government andy56. We all live in an imperfect world. The arrival of Chris Minns as
    Premier in majority or even minority government is a new era for the people of NSW. I feel for the disadvantaged people of outback
    towns and remote areas in Barwon who have put their faith in the hands of a member of the crossbench for the second time running.
    Are they really participating in the possibilities from that fresh start?

  21. rubio@central coast

    The ideal of government from the crossbench through Greens and mostly far-right independents is a latter day folly. Labor must reform its grassroots structures through ALP branches and unions to gain more traction. Despite the great swing in my local seat of Terrigal, Labor seems to be slipping behind here as the count continues. By a few votes and the optional preferential voting system in NSW, Terrigal maybe outside the loop of that fresh start. andy56 will be delighted.

  22. GL

    Two quotes about stupidity:

    “The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.”
    ― Harlan Ellison

    “The fact that jellyfish have survived for 650 million years without brains gives hope to many people.”
    ― David Avocado Wolfe

  23. andy56

    Rubio, what i want is an acknowledgment that the problems we have wont be solved by doing the same shit as always. It needs radical thinking and fit for purpose policies. So far we have an ex government with no policies apart from no policies and a new government that wants to fix the turd with a patch here and there. Got to get the dung beetles in to change the turd into something more akin to fertiliser.
    Want more houses built, dont go to the building industry first. We need a radical overhaul of housing design and implementation. Just like Tesla has taken a chainsaw to car manufacturing, we need to do the same to housing construction. Surely , we can do better than what we have. I for one would be greatful for a 20m2 apartment for short term accomodation. Cant rent anything here for love of money. Just a small issue to address.
    Cant wait to get out of oz again.

  24. Terence Mills

    According to the SMH today, Labor have 46 seats in the lower house and need just one more to achieve a majority. There are five seats yet to declare :

    In Terrigal, Liberal Adam Crouch is 240 votes ahead of Labor’s Sam Boughton, with 71.2 per cent of votes counted
    In Miranda, Liberal Eleni Petinos is 525 votes ahead of Labor’s Simon Earle, with 56.57 per cent of votes counted
    In Goulburn, Liberal Wendy Tuckerman is 368 votes ahead of Labor’s Michael Pilbrow, with 75.63 per cent of votes counted
    In Holsworthy, Liberal Tina Ayyad is 526 votes ahead of Labor’s Mick Maroney, with 72.77 per cent of votes counted
    In Kiama, independent Gareth Ward is 615 votes ahead of Labor’s Katelin McInerney, with 76.69 per cent of votes counted

    Surely Labor can spring one of these ?

  25. Fred

    TM: With 70+% of votes counted, unless there is part of the uncounted pile that is atypical, the likelihood is that whoever is in front now will be in front at the end.

    Preferences may make the difference. Unfortunately, enabling “lazy” voting with a single “1” above the line (legislative council) or a single digit (legislative assembly) effectively bypasses the main point of the preferential voting system – if your chosen candidate isn’t in the running then your second (and theoretically third, forth etc.) preference is/are used. Chances are that a significant percentage of votes cast last Saturday will be extinguished after the first preference is counted. 🙁

  26. rubio@central coast

    Ryde electorate is Labor’s hope of creeping towards 46 seats. There may be a challenge to the apparent Independent victory in Kiama.through the NSW parliament. Liberal preferences in Kiama achieved this result for Gareth Ward in Kiama.

    In Ryde, the problems of high levels of LNP postal votes and exhausted Green votes without preferences are big problems.

    Labor is ahead in Ryde but not out of the woods there (From the NSW Electoral Commission site). The count is proceeding slower than expected.

    I cannot understand the obsession with the need for government from the cross-bench. Labor needs to be in majority government to deliver policies without endless negotiations. The policy challenges are tough enough without these side-lines negotiations.

    Reform of the Labor Party structures is absolutely essential, particularly in regional areas.

    The eight year term for members of the Legislative Council is a joke with only half the Council re-elected this year. Games between minor far-right parties ultimately benefit One Nation and the LNP if a second One Nation Member does not make it over the line this time.

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