Australia

Guns, stadiums define debate as NSW voters head to the polls

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NSW is headed to the polls as the latest Newspoll shows the coalition with a two-party-preferred lead over Labor, pointing to Premier Gladys Berejiklian becoming the first popularly elected female premier in the state's history.

The final day of the NSW election campaign ended with duelling accusations by both Liberal and Labor leaders that their opponent will water down gun laws if elected.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and opposition leader Michael Daley also hammered home, once more, their key pledges on infrastructure spending and stadiums.

Labor leader Michael Daley came under fire ahead of Saturday's election for preferencing the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party in some lower house seats.

Ms Berejiklian faced similar criticism on Friday because her junior coalition partner, the Nationals, are preferencing David Leyonhjelm's Liberal Democrats in the upper house.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian gestures during a streetwalk in Merrylands, in Sydney, Friday, 22 March 2019. New South Wales voters will head to the polls in the state election Saturday, March 23rd. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian gestures during a streetwalk in Merrylands, in Sydney, Friday, 22 March 2019.
AAP

A special NSW Newspoll for The Weekend Australian shows the coalition took a 51-49 per cent two-party-preferred lead over Labor on the eve of the state election.

It is the coalition's best Newspoll result in two years, representing a 3.3 per cent swing away from the government compared with its 2015 election result.

If uniform, it would see Ms Berejiklian lose six seats, meaning she would need one independent's support from the crossbench to form government.

Both denied their relationships with the minor parties, which could be crucial in the event of a minority government, will impact gun legislation.

Mr Leyonhjelm earlier this month suggested New Zealand-style gun laws be implemented in Australia.

His comments were made before last week's Christchurch attack that saw 50 people gunned down by a terrorist wielding semi-automatic weapons.

Ms Berejiklian's big sell in the campaign's closing hours, as it was through the whole election, focused on infrastructure.

NSW elections
NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley waits to board the campaign bus near the M4 in Penrith during the 2019 New South Wales election.campaign
AAP


She contended it was her government's "strong budget position" that was funding massive spends on hospitals, schools, roads and rail.

"That's what good governments do," she told Nine Network on Friday, adding they would lead to a "better quality of life" for future generations.

"We know families always struggle with a work-life balance. That's why we worked hard to give back literally hundreds of millions of dollars to the community."

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'I could have expressed myself better': NSW Labor leader Michael Daley responds to Asian comment
'I could have expressed myself better': NSW Labor leader Michael Daley responds to Asian comment

Mr Daley, speaking on the Ten Network on Friday night, pledged there would be "no deals" or "strings attached" if he was elected and urged voters to focus on the government's attitude over the last eight years.

"People have been let down by a government that behaves like a corporation," he said.

"They waltz into someone's community, they announce what they're going to do, they don't listen."

He pointed to over-development in Sydney's west and, circling back to where his campaign began, the government's controversial $2 billion stadium rebuild plan.

"That stadium issue is emblematic of everything this government has done," Mr Daley said.

"They flip-flopped three or four times on what they said they were doing to do with both stadiums, there's the expense and the spin is just profligate and extravagant."

He pledged to refurbish the stadiums without costing the taxpayers any money.

But Mr Daley conceded it had been a "couple of rough days this week" after a video emerged of him warning supporters Asian migrants were taking jobs in NSW.

He later unreservedly apologised for the comments, noting they were about housing affordability in Sydney.

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Cyber-security expert raises serious doubts over NSW online voting system
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Some pundits are predicting a hung parliament, given the large number of independent and minor party candidates in seats across the state.

The premier has ruled out any deal with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party to form a minority government, fearing they would want to water down gun laws.

The opposition leader said he has had no discussions with the Greens nor the Shooters, and will not do any conditional deals with the party.

"I will not accept anything that says, 'I'll support you for premier if you do this'," he said.

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