The Coalition government in New South Wales has weathered a hail of by-elections over the last term, thinning their majority. With fears that Nationals will lose key seats like Barwon, Upper Hunter and Lismore, the incumbent government sits and waits with bated breath.
As the New South Wales State election looms, five key issues are likely to hold the most sway over voters.

Housing

Although Sydney’s housing prices continue to fall, the median house price is still the highest in Australia, sitting at $800,000. The lack of social and affordable housing is being felt across the lower socioeconomic demographics in the west of Sydney. Powerful case studies of families priced out of housing in Sydney have circulated in the media.

Young families are forced into satellite areas with significant commutes to the CBD. Though both parties are making promises to expedite transport into the city, the perceived inaccessibility of housing will be perhaps the most significant decider in the election.

Cost of Living

With wage increase in Sydney averaging around 0.3% last year, a slow decline in affordability of property and living expenses is culminating in a lack of confidence in economic management by the government.

Among various cost-reducing policies, the Liberals have been doling out $300 baby bundles to new parents, and have promised to knock $50 off each quarterly power bill for self-funded retirees. Labor are promising free TAFE courses in skill deficit areas of NSW as well as free birth certificates, and are vowing to re-regulate the electricity network to avoid soaring energy bills.

The Murray Darling Basin crisis

The drought conditions in the Murray Darling Basin have had a noticeable impact on the daily lives of the thousands of Australians that depend on it for survival. Indeed, the likelihood of policy change in the wake of the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan is high, and this represents a challenge to either party that wishes to form government.

Transport

The incumbent Coalition State government has completed a series of capital works projects across the state. These projects are highly visible and are likely to reflect well on the incumbent State Government.

NSW Labor will have to offer appealing alternatives to the changes introduced by the Liberals. Its promise of $2.4 billion for a transport plan for rail from Sydney to the Illawarra goes some way towards matching up. Meanwhile the Liberals are promising $188 million for a Fingal Bay Link Road.

Live Music

Berejiklian’s State Government has been ridiculed by many of the state’s younger voters based on a series of legislative changes surrounding live music venues.

The CBD lockout laws damaged Sydney’s once-thriving nightlife scene, with the number of businesses in the zone dropping by half within a year of the implementation of the law. Violence at unpoliced illegal parties in green spaces around Sydney has been blamed on the regulations that have pushed the music scene to the fringes of the city.

Young voters have been quick to defend music festivals despite drug-related fatalities in 2018, and enduring perceptions of the Berejiklian government as a ‘nanny state’ are not doing the Coalition any favours.

The election period is fertile ground for advocacy efforts, with both parties seeking to secure votes and form government.