Here’s Your NSW 2023 Election Mega Thread 

cartoon people voting in the 2023 NSW state election

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Still wondering where to cast your vote this weekend? We’ve put together a list of policies from the three major political parties to get your head around some of the solutions on offer at the 2023 NSW election.

Life’s been pretty stressful lately. A crisis in public health and education, impending emissions reduction targets, cost of living pressures, and historic housing shortages make this year’s NSW election one to watch. With a huge range of structural issues plaguing the state right now, the 2023 state election will be crucial in determining the well-being of all of us NSW citizens for years to come.

Still wondering where to cast your vote this weekend? We’ve put together a list of policies from the three major political parties to help you get your head around some of the solutions they’re suggesting. Obviously, we couldn’t cover every policy on offer this year, but we’ve tried to present a decent number of them, focusing on those that tackle some of the most pressing issues for Millenials and Gen Z.

But first things first: make sure you’re enrolled to vote! Head to the NSW Electoral Commission website to make sure your details are correct before you rock up the polls. And remember, no matter who you’re voting for, don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t matter – get to know how Australia’s unique preference voting system works here.

What Are NSW Politicians Doing About Climate Change?

Smoke rises from a canopy of trees, it looks as if a bushfire is burning.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this week didn’t mince its words. According to UN scientists, to contain global warming to the acceptable target of 1.5 degrees, the world needs to drastically reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

“Avoiding the worst of climate change means abandoning plans for further fossil fuel expansion and going all in on transforming our energy system,” explains the Climate Council, who offer a neat explanation of the previous IPCC reports here.

While many of the decisions concerning Australia’s response to climate change sit with the Federal government, NSW’s transition from fossil fuels and continued commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2030 is still an important part in the national climate change strategy. With recent natural disasters like the Black Summer bushfires and the devastating east coast floods are reminders that political action on climate change is both personal and urgent.

Here’s an overview of the NSW Liberal Party’s climate change policies, who the current government in charge in the state:

  • Investment in electric vehicles, which includes rebates of $3000 for new vehicles and the removal of stamp duty taxes – with the aim to see 1 million EVs in total on NSW roads by 2030. This brings the state’s total investment in EV’s to $633 million.
  • More renewable energy sources under the NSW Renewable Energy Roadmap, which includes the creation of green hydrogen hubs and the funding of private renewable energy sources like pumped hydrogen, which the Liberals say will create 23,000 indirect jobs.
  • The NSW Liberals say they’ve expanded the state’s national parks by 685,000 hectares since 2011 and will “continue to grow our estate”.

Here are the Labor Party’s policies for climate change: 

  • Legislating NSW emissions reduction targets, so that the state is actually required by law to meet them.
  • Create a state-owned body responsible for renewable energy investment called the NSW Energy Security Corporation. They argue that a state-run system would help ensure fairer energy prices and less disruption to the grid.
  • Labor would also establish a net zero commission to “monitor and review” the process towards emissions reductions, including outcomes like jobs and energy prices.
  • NSW Labor has criticised the state’s carbon offset scheme after the auditor general reported that the government was failing to protect the environment. Labor says they’ll establish a review that will make changes within the first term of government.

However, it’s worth noting that there are currently eight coal projects pending approval in NSW this year, along with the controversial Narrabri coal seam gas project, which is in the final stages of development. Even after the dire warning from the IPCC, both the Labor and Liberal Party have ruled out cancelling the project arguing the decision ultimately lies with the NSW Independent Planning Commission. The NSW Greens Party have slammed the decision and has vowed to scrap the projects if they win a majority government.

The NSW Greens policies on climate change include: 

  • The Greens have committed to shutting down coal-fired power stations by 2030 and transitioning workers to new sustainable industries.
  • The Greens want to phase out all Coal & Gas and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030, additionally phasing out household gas with rebates totalling $3000 for homes to replace cooking equipment.
  • End native logging in NSW “immediately”, via $30 million in subsidies per year for the next 10 years.

What’s Happening With The Healthcare System In NSW?

two doctors are dressed in blue scrubs are operating on a patient

Even before COVID-19, public hospitals in NSW have reported increasing levels of under-staffing which has huge knock-on effects for NSW residents.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) has shared that many public hospitals in Sydney are missing key staff, with Liverpool, Bankstown, and Blacktown hospitals all having over one hundred full-time staff vacancies each. The NSWNMA estimates that almost 68,000 patients in the state left the emergency department before being treated, while one in 10 patients waited twenty hours for treatment. The NSWNMA has fought a long campaign to implement safe staffing ratios in NSW public hospitals. The Liberal Party rejected this in favour of the current system, which the union describes as “not delivering a safe level of care”.

The Liberal government’s plan for healthcare includes: 

  • 10,000 additional health workers over the next four years, including a plan to recruit 2128 paramedics.
  • $11.9 billion over the next four years to deliver new and upgraded hospitals and health facilities across NSW.
  • The development of 25 urgent care facilities across NSW, aimed at easing pressure on emergency departments by providing urgent non-critical care.
  • Changes to the pharmacy system to allow chemists to prescribe certain medications.

Meanwhile, Labor’s healthcare policies include: 

  • Labor have promised to introduce minimum and enforceable safe staffing levels to public hospitals, starting with emergency departments.
  • The removal of wages caps for nurses, allowing them to receive salary increases above the prescribed three percent public sector cap.
  • $100 million in funding for women’s health clinics, with residents of NSW with breast cancer receiving free access to a nurse who specialises in cancer treatment.
  • The expansion of hospital beds and infrastructure across Western Sydney.

The Greens’ proposed changes to the health portfolio include: 

  • Matched Labor’s commitment to safe staffing ratios across NSW.
  • Significantly increasing funding for public mental health services, including public hospital inpatient services, psychologists, community-based outpatient and outreach services, and case managers.
  • Dental procedures to be covered by Medicare, with more funding to reduce wait times.
  • Contraception, abortion, fertility treatment, and menopause care being provided in the public system.

How Will Teachers & Schools Be Affected By The Election?

A picture of a classroom filled with adolescent boys. The teacher is facing the camera. nsw election

Like the healthcare system, NSW public schools have been rocked by a staffing crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. Statistics from the ABS show that NSW had the highest number of students per teacher in the country in 2022, with less than 10 percent of teachers describing their workload as “manageable”.

“This government is failing teachers and failing students in public schools,” the Teachers Federation said about the current situation in NSW.

The Liberal’s education policies include: 

  • A plan to address the situation of teachers moving interstate for better conditions by offering a rewards incentive to attract high-quality teachers and compensate those already doing stellar work.
  • Appoint a new Chief Behaviour Officer in 2023, supported by 200 behaviour specialists in the public high schools aimed at achieving a “renewed focus on classroom behaviour”.
  • Introduce a one-year master’s qualification for aspiring high school teachers to address teacher shortages.

Labor’s education reforms include: 

  • They’ve taken aim at the use of mobile phones in public schools, with opposition leader Chris Minns vowing to ban them completely.
  • Reforms to ban vapes at school, including the installation of vapour detectors in bathrooms and a roundtable discussion on smoking and vaping within the first year of government.
  • Abolishing the public sector wages gap to make teachers’ salaries more competitive.
  • Labor will establish a $400 million Education Future Fund, reportedly to invest in teachers and counsellors to establish a permanent literacy and numeracy tutoring program to help children who are struggling at school.

The Greens’ education policies include

  • Introduce a “maximum of 20 students for years K-2, 25 students for years 3-12, and limited to 20 students for practical subjects including science” – they argue that NSW classroom sizes have exploded.
  • The abolition of fees, charges and ‘voluntary contributions’ in public education.
  • An increase in the number of school counsellors, specialist teachers for students with learning difficulties, specialist ESL Teachers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education support staff, and resources for children with special needs.
  • Public funding for universities and TAFE to render education “free and accessible to all”.
a picture of a magnifying glass on a table with a model of a house, next to building blueprints and a piggy bank. nsw election

Australia is in the middle of an inflation crisis that’s sent the prices of goods and services skyrocketing, with the prospect of a global recession hanging in the balance this year. Fun! Everything from energy prices to fuel has been affected, while rent prices have risen by over 20 percent in Sydney’s CBD. Welfare advocates have long been warning that Centrelink payments just aren’t enough to survive on, and are seeking immediate increases from both the state and federal governments.

The NSW Liberal Party has announced several policies for existing and aspiring homeowners, including: 

  • The “First Home Buyer Choice” scheme, allowing first-home buyers to choose benefits for their circumstances. These include a choice between an annual property payment or stamp duty for properties up to $1.5 million, with concessions for properties valued up to $800,000.
  • The Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper, which’ll provide 40% of the property price for a new dwelling or 30% for an existing dwelling, meaning that aspiring home buyers don’t have to find as much of a deposit.
  • 47,000 additional childcare placements to help low and middle income families.
  • Over 15,800 social housing properties will be upgraded over the next three years.

However, the government has also been heavily criticised for its strategy of selling off public housing, with estimates that over $3 billion worth of properties have been sold since the Coalition took power in 2011. The fate of residents in public housing areas in Sydney will be decided by this election, with a Liberal victory resulting in Franklyn Street public housing estate being sold this year according to The Guardian. 

NSW Labor’s policies on housing and cost of living include: also plan to

  • Labor say they will walk back the sale of public housing across the state, and address the waitlist of over 50,000 applicants by combining three social housing providers into a new body named Homes NSW.
  • Assign 30 percent of all homes built on government land for sociable, affordable and universal housing, with additional support for homelessness support organisations in the long-term.
  • Abolishing or reducing stamp duty, which Labor estimate will be possible for 98 percent of first home buyers.
  • Banning no-grounds evictions for rental properties (a policy that has been supported by all the major political parties in the 2023 NSW election) along with appointing a NSW Rental Commissioner to oversee policies like a ban on secret rent bidding and identifying barriers to increasing housing supply for renting.

The Greens’ housing and cost of living policies include: 

  • With rental property prices rising rapidly across NSW, the Greens Party say that they’ll introduce an immediate rent freeze to address the problem of rising housing fees.
  • Apply a 5% empty homes levy for homes left empty for over six months to tackle empty investment properties across the state, with the funds going towards creating more public, social and affordable homes.
  • Invest in 10,000 new public and social homes each year for the next 10 years.
  • Invest $1 billion to deliver at least 2500 public and social homes in regional NSW each year for the next 10 years.

Remember, you have to vote by this Saturday the 25th of March at the latest, with polls closing in NSW at 6pm. There’s also nothing stopping you from voting early: find your nearest pre-polling centre here.