BARRY O'FARRELL led the Coalition to triumph last night with the biggest swing in Australian electoral history, then declared: ''This is the victory for everyone who wanted to make NSW number one again.'' But Mr O'Farrell, the state's 43rd Premier, also paid tribute to Kristina Keneally - who quit as Labor leader - as a ''skilled communicator and gutsy performer''.
KRISTINA KENEALLY quit as Labor leader last night as she admitted Labor had deserted voters. ''The truth is the people of NSW, who entrusted us with government for 16 years, did not leave us,'' the outgoing premier said. ''We left them.''
LABOR was taking heart last night from Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt's performance in Marrickville, where the swing against her to the Greens appeared less than expected. In Balmain, where the Greens have been tipped to oust Education Minister Verity Firth, the result might not be known for some time. Greens' candidate and Leichhardt mayor Jamie Parker was being cautious, telling the ABC he thought it would be very close.
The Greens bid to make history by claiming its first seat in the NSW lower house has faltered, with Marrickville likely to remain with Labor and Balmain too close to call. In the lead up to the poll, the Greens believed two high profile candidates - Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne and Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker - would unseat two Labor ministers in the seats of Marrickville and Balmain. But tonight it seemed Carmel Tebbutt would survive in Marrickville, while there was a three-way battle for Balmain - with a Liberal, James Falk, the surprise third contender with Mr Parker and sitting Labor member Verity Firth.
A BARRY O'FARRELL government will oppose any interference from Canberra that would cut state revenue from poker machines. The move threatens the support of the Gillard government by Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, who struck a deal during the hung parliament that the government would rein in the gaming industry and problem gambling. Mr Wilkie has said repeatedly he would withdraw his support if the government failed to pass his legislation, which requires the co-operation of the states. They have been asked to sign up to the plan by May.
NSW delivered a tectonic shift in Australian politics yesterday - a shift so dynamic it has the capacity to alter the cultural course of the nation for the next decade and longer. Most noticeable will be the obvious power shift between the states and the Gillard federal government. On Friday, there were two conservative state governments. Tomorrow, there will be three - and they have the palpable capacity to dominate the national debate.
THE Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to run Christian education classes taught by volunteers, angering parents and schools that do not want to host them. An email exchange, obtained by The Sunday Age, reveals the department told one parent that his school ''must'' keep its Christian religious instructor whether it wanted to or not. A number of Melbourne primary schools have questioned whether students should be taught about Christianity. But the department and Christian religious education provider Access Ministries says they have no choice.
Perhaps it was a case of don't ask, don't tell. Last November, the House of Representatives called on MPs to ''gauge'' voter views on same-sex marriage. But it turns out only about a dozen of the lower house's 150 politicians have so far formally canvassed the issue in their electorates. The MPs who ran public consultations were, in the main, the ones with most at stake: inner-city representatives from seats where a majority of voters believe marriage should not be exclusively confined, as the Marriage Act says, to a man and a woman. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson was one of the only inner-city Melbourne MPs to survey his constituents. But Mr Ferguson, who represents the progressive, green-belt suburbs of Northcote, Fairfield and Thornbury, is refusing to release his results.
Muslim community identity Keysar Trad is not dangerous, disgraceful or a racist who incites people to commit violence, the NSW Court of Appeal has ruled. Mr Trad, the president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, has been cleared of those defamatory labels thrown at him by 2GB's Jason Morrison and backed by Supreme Court Justice Peter McClellan. Last week the Court of Appeal ruled there was no evidence to support them. The court found that Justice McClellan had erred in his findings on a number of points in relation to those defamatory statements and has ordered a retrial to assess damages regarding Mr Trad's reputation.
Voters finally had had enough when the David Campbell scandal broke, writes Heath Aston. Defeat for NSW Labor has been brewing for years but any chance Kristina Keneally had of turning things around evaporated in exactly seven seconds on May 20 last year. Everyone remembers the footage: a door opens and out steps a portly, middle-aged man into the night. Nervously dabbing at his moustache, his body language screams someone slinking away from somewhere he should not be. ''This is Transport Minister David Campbell leaving a sex venue in the electorate of Kristina Keneally,'' the voice of the Channel Seven reporter begins. ''The minister had been in Ken's at Kensington for more than two hours on Tuesday night; taking advantage of Parliament's recently introduced family-friendly hours, he excused his driver and drove himself to the gay sauna.''
During a door-knock in Balmain last week supporters of Verity Firth found themselves face-to-face with an ALP diehard who is so disillusioned with the party that she tried to close the door in their faces. "But we're not Labor," they protested, "we're Verity Firth." This is a party which is so on the nose and so demoralised that it dared not speak its name to the electors.
AS THE budget approaches, Chris Bowen might occasionally wonder about what could have been. Seemingly headed for the prestigious finance portfolio after the election, Bowen, a minister on the make from NSW, found himself landed in immigration. With constant boat arrivals and overflowing detention numbers, this is a nightmare job that seems to get worse by the week.
CAMPBELL Newman's audacious bid to become premier has received a stunning endorsement from Queenslanders and put the Liberal National Party on track for a landslide victory in the next state election. An exclusive Galaxy Poll for The Sunday Mail reveals voters across the state have overwhelmingly rallied behind the Brisbane Lord Mayor, pushing support for Anna Bligh's Labor team back towards the dire levels she experienced before the summer natural disasters. The poll results indicate Cr Newman would win his chosen seat of Ashgrove from the ALP despite the 7.1 per cent margin held by Labor's Kate Jones in the seat as part of a sweeping victory that could see the Government lose up to 33 seats.
A RETIRING Liberal National Party (LNP) MP says his decision to quit has nothing to do with Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's pending leadership. Toowoomba South MP Mike Horan on Saturday told ABC Radio he would not contest the next state election, but said he'd told the party of his intentions more than a year ago. "It's a chance a lot of people would relish, to work with Campbell to move things around in Queensland,'' he said on Saturday.
QUEENSLAND Deputy Premier Paul Lucas has called on Campbell Newman to resign immediately as Brisbane lord mayor. Mr Newman this week announced he would quit the post if preselected for the Liberal National Party (LNP) in the state seat of Ashgrove. Should he win the western Brisbane seat from state Environment Minister Kate Jones, he would become LNP leader.
ARCADE games that resemble pokies will be banned under a plan to tackle problem gambling. Machines that have flashing lights similar to pokies and offer valuable prizes or reward players with prizes based on luck would be declared illegal, Gambling Minister Bernard Finnigan said. He will release a discussion paper today, inviting public feedback "on plans to declare certain machines illegal".
The move was designed "to protect South Australians from alcohol-fuelled crime", Consumer Affairs Minister Gail Gago said on the eve of the introduction of the new law on May 3. She said the new legislation, which provided a definition of a drunk for the first time, would ensu
e "stronger enforcement" of the law against serving intoxicated patrons at the state's 6000 licensed premises.
Democrats in the House and Senate last week introduced legislation aimed at repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. The path ahead for the legislation appears uncertain in both chambers, at least for the near future. Republicans hold the majority in the House, and a Senate Judiciary Committee aide said Thursday that there is no set calendar for the legislation right now and that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), is “taking things one step at a time” and consulting with other members on the path forward.
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