"The truth is, the people of New South Wales who entrusted us with government for 16 years did not leave us, we left them."
- Kristina Keneally, from her election night concession speech, 26.3.11 (video)
It was inevitable that the Labor Party would be hammered in yesterday New South Wales election, and as it turned out the polls were fairly accurate in predicting the magnitude of the annihilation.
The Liberal-National Party coalition has won government for the first time since 1995 following a turnabout in voting patterns unseen in modern Australian political history.
Labor deserved all that came to them, even if not every individual member deserved to be caught in the landslide. Outgoing premier Keneally said it all, as encapsulated above, in her (surely well rehearsed) concession speech, delivered appropriately while many parts of Sydney were observing Earth Hour.
Keneally has been an extraordinary campaigner over the past month or so, exuding enormous confidence in attempting to sell the unsellable. However, few people were listening any more. She will be one of the 18 to 20 remaining Labor members in the 93-seat Lower House, but has chosen not to continue as party leader. Correct move.
Barry O'Farrell is the new Premier. He could easily have been so in 2007 if the Liberal Party had chosen him, and not the inept Peter Debnam, to succeed John Brogden as Opposition Leader in 2005. He carries massive responsibility in putting the State back on track, and keeping his own potentially dysfunctional party backroom in check. His victory speech can be seen here, with a partial transcript here.
One downside of the election is that the balance of power in the Legislative Council is likely to be shared by the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) and the Shooters and Fishers Party. One hopes that O'Farrell does nothing to compromise with the small-minded agendas of either of these groups.
At least Pauline Hanson didn't win a seat. As usual.
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