Horses, housing and LGBTQ+ rights: would-be NSW kingmakers outline demands

With a hung state parliament a real possibility, independents are listing the issues they want addressed to guarantee their support

Feral horses, rural bridges, “jobs for the boys”, gambling reform and LGBTQ+ rights: these are among the key issues for New South Wales independents as they decide whether to support Labor or the Coalition in the event of a minority government.

With less than a month until the state election, two polls are indicating Labor’s lead is diminishing and the Coalition is regaining ground, suggesting a hung parliament is a real possibility.

A Climate 200-commissioned poll conducted this month also indicates a tightening race in the seat of Manly, suggesting the first preference vote for the environment minister, James Griffin, had dropped to 38%, down from 53% at the last state poll.

The polling of 1,006 voters by Community Engagement showed the independent challenger Joeline Hackman with 19% of the primary vote, followed by Labor on 17%, with cost of living, climate and corruption the key issues among voters.

“I would grant confidence and supply to … [whomever] is going to deliver on the values of my community and those key issues, particularly no new coal and gas projects and also making sure that we legislate against offshore drilling,” Hackman said.

“Also important is making sure that we end ‘jobs for the boys’ and pork barreling. The community has had enough.”

Griffin said he had been “working hard to deliver great outcomes” for Manly for six years and would continue to do so.

Hackman is among five “teal” candidates hoping to join the already-powerful crossbench. Most are running on platforms of climate action, integrity and better services.

Climate 200’s executive director, Byron Fay, said Hackman was “within striking distance” and polling results showing she only had 32% community awareness meant she could yet grow her share as efforts on the ground ramp up.

A Newspoll published on Monday showed primary support for Labor had dropped by four percentage points since September to 36%, while a second poll in the Financial Review put Labor on a 53-47 two-party-preferred basis, backed by a primary vote of 39%.

In each of the polls, Dominic Perrottet claimed a sizeable lead in the preferred premier stakes.

Ben Raue, an electoral analyst, said he believed there was a genuine chance of minority government and deals being needed to ensure confidence and supply. “It’s tight and there’s already a big crossbench,” he said.

He predicted that it was likely members of crossbench would strike deals with whichever party had the most seats. “If one major [party] is one [seat] short of a majority and there’s a dozen people to choose from, they’re in a pretty strong position,” he said.

The longstanding independent for Lake Macquarie, Greg Piper, said he would respect the will of the voters and work with the party closest to forming majority government.

“Whoever is supported, whoever forms government, has to be able to govern. It’s really important for the state – stability is really important,” he said.

He said he will continue to advocate for social housing and gambling reform – alongside fellow independent and Sydney MP Alex Greenwich – while also advocating for his community and demanding local infrastructure upgrades, including a new hospital and better roads.

“I will do whatever I can to assist the state, but I will be looking after my electorate,” Piper said.

After gaining support from both major parties to ban so-called gay conversion therapy, Greenwich wants to see further protections for the LGBTQ+ community, an immediate end to no-grounds evictions and genuine gambling reform.

“I will proceed pushing on all of those items regardless of what the outcome of the election is,” he said.

The Wagga Wagga MP and key independent, Joe McGirr, this week said his support was contingent on reducing in feral horse numbers in the Kosciuszko national park, alongside action to close the health gap between the city and the regions.

“Apart from [health] I would be hesitant to say that any one issue is more important than another,” he said.

Murray’s MP, Helen Dalton, said she could work to get the best for her electorate, which she describes as behind on health facilities and infrastructure.

“Whoever’s in government will say, ‘I want you to support this bill for the city,’ and I will say, ‘I want X amount for regional roads. I want a bridge here,’” Dalton said.


Tamsin Rose

The GuardianTramp

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