How Labor lost New South Wales

8 May 2012

A culture of entitlement helped undermine policy-making under four Labor premiers, writes Andrew West in Inside Story

THE story of the devastation of the NSW Labor Party in 2011 begins on the night of one of its more miraculous victories. On Saturday 24 March 2007, the premier, Morris Iemma – whose government had been returned with an unexpected margin of comfort after twelve years of Labor rule – declared the result “a mandate with a message.”

Labor had won fifty-two seats in the ninety-three-seat Legislative Assembly. Even though the party had suffered a swing against it, the margins built by Iemma’s predecessor, Bob Carr, at the 1999 and 2003 elections provided enough insulation. For the members of that government, and for the thinning ranks of Labor’s membership, it was an extraordinary result. Just five months earlier, a junior minister in Iemma’s government had been arrested and charged with sexual offences against a minor, then a senior minister had been forced to quit after misleading parliament and, in the final days of the campaign, a breakdown on Sydney’s rail network crystallised in voters’ minds the long-running story of neglect and failure in public transport…

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Photo: Unions NSW/ Flickr

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