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Australia Voters ‘see through cash splashes': Berejiklian's plea for Upper Hunter

10:50  14 april  2021
10:50  14 april  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the NSW government will not try to buy votes in the must-win byelection in Upper Hunter, conceding voters see through blatant pork barrelling.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks during a FIFA Women's Football World Cup 2023 press conference at Stadium Australia on April 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images) © 2021 Getty Images

In a significant shift after a staunch defence of pork barrelling late last year, Ms Berejiklian said there would not be major funding announcements as seen in other byelections.

The last byelection the government fought - and lost - was in Wagga Wagga in 2018, where the government made $130 million of promises and still suffered a massive swing against it.

"I think the community see through a cash splash," Ms Berejiklian said in Singleton on Wednesday, in her first visit to the electorate since the May 22 byelection was announced.

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Ms Berejiklian also issued several pleas to voters to support the Nationals' candidate David Layzell, saying she needed him in her "team" to ensure a "strong and stable" government.

"We need him to keep doing the job we are doing," Ms Berejiklian said after visiting the Clydesdale livestock market in Singleton and meeting locals in the town's main street.

The government is already in minority after the resignation of former Nationals MP Michael Johnsen who has been accused of raping a sex worker at a secluded outlook, a claim he denies.

Liberal MP John Sidoti is also on the crossbench as he faces a corruption inquiry examining whether he misused his position as a member of Parliament to lobby councillors over rezoning decisions.

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Ms Berejiklian said neither she nor Deputy Premier John Barilaro could not be in all parts of the state and so the Coalition needed a local representative in its ranks to keep them abreast of issues.

The Premier also stepped back from comments she made after the byelection was called, when she said it would take a "miracle" for the government to retain the seat, and she "had no doubt" they would lose it.

The seat is one of the most marginal in NSW on just 2.6 per cent and history shows byelections rarely favour governments, with swings between 10 per cent and 15 per cent often seen.

"All I was reflecting on was how difficult the challenge would be and that challenge is still there," Ms Berejiklian said.

"Notwithstanding that we have an outstanding candidate, if you look at the history of byelections, there have been massive swings against the government ... I was being honest in my comments."

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Labor has preselected coalminer and union official Jeff Drayton as its candidate and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have picked Singleton Chamber of Commerce president Sue Gilroy.

One Nation will also announce its candidate in Singleton on Thursday, but it will not be its NSW leader Mark Latham who had toyed with running.

All candidates have stressed the importance coal will play in the byelection, but Mr Barilaro said it was not the only issue and the region also had strong equine and wine industries.

Polling released this week by progressive think thank the Australia Institute showed the majority of voters in the Upper Hunter- which is home to the highest proportion of coal jobs in the state - supported a pause on new coal mines.

The polling was commissioned in the wake of comments made by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said there should be a moratorium on new coal mines in the Upper Hunter.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!