Mike Baird claimed victory on Saturday night, retaining his position as NSW Premier despite controversy over his electricity privatisation policy.
With Labor campaigning relentlessly against the Government’s poles and wires scheme, the Coalition was cut from 69 seats to 53 – a result of what Mr Baird called “the biggest scare campaign in state history”.
“We sought a mandate to make NSW great and tonight the people of NSW have given us that mandate,” Mr Baird told a crowd of cheering supporters at his election party.
Although the Coalition lost 16 seats across the state, Mr Baird was confident about the reduced majority.
“In four years we’ll be back in those seats we lost, seeking to represent them over the good things we do for the people of NSW over the next four years,” he said.
NSW Labor secured 34 seats, compared to only 20 at the 2011 election. Among those were 13 seats in its traditional western Sydney heartland including the key seats of Auburn, Blue Mountains, Lakemba and Strathfield.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley was optimistic.
“Today the heartland has returned,” he proclaimed in his concession speech. “The next election, friends, is now winnable for Labor.”
Mr Foley, who has led the Labor Party for only three months, indicated he did not intend to step down from his role.
The NSW Greens did staggeringly well, sweeping up four seats in the lower house. That topped the minor party’s performance from past state and federal elections in Australia, breaking their own records.
The controversial WestConnex project proved to be a decisive factor of the Greens’ unexpected victory as they won the inner-west electorates of Balmain and Newtown, a newly created seat.
“There is no way WestConnex is coming anywhere near here,” the new MP for Newtown, Jenny Leong, said.
The key election issue of coal seam gas also won the Greens the north coast seats of Lismore and Ballina, previously held by the National Party. – Alison Cheung
Top image: screengrab from ABC News 24’s election broadcast.