Berejiklian to target Foley ahead of NSW state election
A PIVOT to a negative campaign to highlight the risks to NSW under Labor and stronger attacks on Luke Foley are part of the state government's strategy to revive its political fortunes after the weekend's brutal by-election thumping.
While the government intends to go to the election with a positive campaign, highlighting Labor's risks - in a way it did not during the Wagga Wagga by-election - will be a crucial part of the strategy, The Daily Telegraph has learnt as the government began its post-mortem of the weekend's lashing. There is also a plan to more explicitly tie major infrastructure programs to reduced time in traffic in a bid to connect to voters.
Senior government sources are privately criticising Premier Gladys Berejiklian's tendency to "stay safe" and the government's failure to give voters a real reason to support them at the ballot box in the wake of a gutting 29 per cent swing in the Wagga Wagga by-election.
Ministers and MPs support her leadership, but several - both Liberals and Nationals - believe she needs to do better at selling the government.
"No one knows what our narrative is. No one knows what we stand for. I don't even know," one minister said yesterday.
In a statement provided to The Daily Telegraph last night, Ms Berejiklian issued fighting words saying she believed there would be a "clear choice" for the people of NSW at the next election.
"This Government is known for delivering on our promises and getting this State back on track. The challenge going forward is how to keep it there and how we ensure NSW keeps powering ahead," she said.
It is understood this involves a concerted effort to draw attention to Labor plans to slash projects and what this would mean for jobs in the state.
"You can guarantee we will continue to prioritise cost of living relief to families. You can guarantee we will continue to invest in infrastructure so that people can spend less time in traffic. And you can guarantee we will continue to improve services at our hospitals and schools," Ms Berejiklian said in the statement.
"You can also guarantee that creating opportunity for people, no matter where they live and what their circumstances, is at the heart of everything we do."
Ms Berejiklian yesterday declared the state government needed to "listen better on the ground" with voters needing to know they were not being "taken for granted".
Ms Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance agreed with the advice of Deputy Premier John Barilaro who said the state government needed to simply "get real" - including ditching expensive suits and ties - to connect with people.
"Absolutely! I think his advice is really important," Ms Berejiklian said.
"All of us do. All elected officials, all members of parliament need to get real and keep it real."
Labor Leader Luke Foley - who is now in reach of victory in March - said: "The premier says she's got the message but refuses to nominate a single policy she'll change".
Mr Constance said the election campaign would come down to a "presidential style" choice between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Foley which he believed the Liberal National coalition could win.
He said they needed to work on their messaging, including ditching the word "infrastructure" to explain multi million dollar projects.
"When we talk about infrastructure, forget that word. Look at the family who's benefiting from that worksite, who are able to bring home a meal every night to feed their kids," he said.
"There's no point in talking budget surpluses and multi billion dollar amounts because people can't relate to that, people want to be able to go to work; they don't want politics and government (in) their lives, they just want to be able to get on with it and they want a fair go."