"Ten per cent to the right of centre"

Politicians Elections Australia Victoria New South Wales

GIVEN the predilection of Australian voters to give an incumbent the benefit of the doubt, by far the hardest task in politics is winning government from opposition. With meagre resources and faced by governments that have an entire bureaucracy on call, an opposition leader who comes from behind to take line honours does so in the face of quite considerable odds.

For a Liberal leader in New South Wales, the task is that much harder. Like Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales is traditional Labor territory, and the history of the past seven decades illustrates a Labor preponderance only occasionally punctuated – just eighteen years out of seventy – by relatively brief Liberal interregnums. When Barry O’Farrell leads the Liberal–National coalition to victory on 26 March, as he surely will, he will join Robert Askin (1965) and Nick Greiner (1988) to become just the third Liberal in the party’s sixty-five year history to take power from Labor…

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