EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 24.03.10.
One year and two days out from the New South Wales election Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell has launched his campaign. Not everyone might have noticed, but Mr. O’Farrell has actually been campaigning for some time already, making himself available for media appearances at every opportunity, and sniping at the Government over every failure, every broken promise, and every cancelled project. And there’s been plenty of ammunition for the Opposition Leader with a series of Premiers presiding over a series of policy reversals. But even with all of the present government’s failings, it has been difficult for Mr. O’Farrell to make an impression with the public.
Perhaps that is why he has announced his five point election strategy today, even though it is still a long time until the real election arrives. It’s a sign that the clock is ticking, a message that the opposition is ready to take the reins of office. It might be more than a year away, but the opposition wants us to know that they mean business. Not only have they put together their five point strategy, they have also unveiled a sparkling new campaign slogan. Here it is: “Make New South Wales Number One Again.” Exciting, isn’t it?
The five points of the five point strategy are: 1. A strong economy with lower taxes to create jobs; 2. More for the frontline such as hospitals and police; 3. Building the southwest and the northwest rail links; 4. An accountable government; and 5. Giving planning power back to communities. It all sounds good and positive, but haven’t we heard all this before? In fact, with a few minor adjustments much of it could be appropriated by the Labor Party who will also no doubt make promises about a strong economy, more jobs, more for hospitals and police, and so on.
Of course, we all want our state to be “Number One”, but just what exactly does that mean? Number one for economic growth? Living standards? Tourism? Or all of the above? It is a phrase that can be made to mean pretty much anything. And if New South Wales isn’t Number One right now, just which state is? So far, Barry O’Farrell has been handed success in the opinion polls on the back of widespread disaffection with a government perceived to be self serving and incompetent.
But when it comes to crunch time in just over a year from now, that might not be enough. The opposition cannot afford to be complacent and assume that the voters will trust them to be any better than Labor. What is more important than campaign slogans and five point strategies is to have clear objectives that can be defined and empirically assessed. What is really important is not just what promises are made, but actually being able to deliver those promises.
Just look at the current government. They’ve made heaps of promises, but they’ve had plenty of trouble delivering any of them.