Australia's biggest state to vote in close-run election


  • World
  • Friday, 24 Mar 2023

FILE PHOTO: The Sydney city centre skyline is seen as the state of New South Wales continues to report low numbers for new daily cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, August 16, 2020. Picture taken August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

SYDNEY (Reuters) - 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 have to reach consensus with cross-bench members on key issues.

Voting at around 2,000 polling booths opens at 8 a.m. (2100 GMT on Friday) and will close at 6 p.m., 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%, 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% 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.

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".

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.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Michael Perry)

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