NSW election 2023
Full election results
For Anthony Albanese, Saturday’s NSW election result is a case of being careful what you wish for.
Having wall-to-wall Labor governments across the mainland is undoubtedly positive for the party and a low point for the Coalition in its history.
But it isn’t all good for the prime minister, nor for Labor premiers elsewhere in the country.
In Dominic Perrottet, they had a Liberal premier in the country’s biggest state they were able to go to blows with if necessary.
Before Saturday night, Albanese had told close confidants that he liked Perrottet and they worked well together. The two appeared in more press conferences together than Perrottet ever did with Scott Morrison.
None of this is to say Albanese doesn’t have a good relationship with incoming premier Chris Minns, but having a strong relationship with a premier from the other side can often prove productive for a prime minister.
Now, with Labor premiers in every jurisdiction except Tasmania, the biffs will all be within the family. And sometimes fights within the family are worse.
We’ve already started to see this play out before Saturday night’s result with Labor premiers in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland criticising the Albanese government, and each other, over energy, health funding and the AUKUS agreement.
This will now intensify, with no Labor premier wanting to be seen by their voters acquiescing to a prime minister from their own party.
It will be most pronounced in Queensland, where Annastacia Palaszczuk will be trying to win a fourth term next year. In a state where people love maverick politicians who stand up to Canberra, expect Palaszczuk to get feral with Albanese at times.
Undoubtedly, the election result is yet another sign that the Liberals are growing out of touch with voters across the country.
The result was not a referendum on Perrottet; it was a referendum on a 12-year-old, scandal-plagued government.
However, some Liberals in NSW were drawing federal implications from the result.
This included grumbling about Perrottet’s decision to employ staffers who had worked for Scott Morrison, and the decision to run a Morrison-style campaign which highlighted the leader and his wife and put the ministry in the background.
In some respects, they looked at last year’s presidential campaign that Morrison ran and doubled down.
However, history shows it doesn’t take long for things to change.
After the Rudd government was elected in 2007, then-Brisbane mayor Campbell Newman was the most senior elected Liberal politician in the country.
A year later, the Liberals were elected in Western Australia, followed by Victoria, then NSW, then Queensland and Northern Territory, and before we knew it, we had Tony Abbott as prime minister.
The most important rule in politics is that it’s never as good, or as bad, as it seems. Albanese is acutely aware of this.
The political pendulum could begin to shift back in Queensland next year.
And conversely, it’s probably good for Albanese if Queenslanders take out their cricket bats against Labor in 2024, rather than taking their state-based grievances out on him a year later.
There are also lessons for Opposition Leader Peter Dutton from the result.
Like the Victorian election in November, it’s possible that no “teal” candidates will be successful in NSW.
It may suggest that the donation caps in Victoria and NSW have hampered the ability of teals to get elected. With the Albanese government to legislate its own spending cap, teal MPs will have to deal with this problem at the next federal election.
It may also suggest that rather than the Liberals facing an existential crisis in the inner-city, last year’s teal wave could have been driven by the Morrison government’s tone and policies. As a senior member of that government, Dutton was part of the problem.
In any event, Dutton will be much more worried about the Aston byelection in Victoria next weekend than the NSW election.
If the Liberals lose Aston, Dutton may not keep the leadership for very long.
For this reason, Albanese has been privately telling people he doesn’t mind if Labor doesn’t win Aston. That way Dutton stays as leader until the election.
Many in Labor believe Dutton is unelectable, so they would prefer him to stay as leader.
They made the same assessment about Tony Abbott during Labor’s last heyday, and life came at them fast.
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