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Plenty of laughs, but Premier like the Keneally in a coalmine

Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday March 24, 2011

Alexandra Smith STATE POLITICS

IN the final days of the NSW election campaign the fortunes of the two parties could not be more stark.Kristina Keneally is so desperate not to lose rusted-on Labor voters that she has resorted to pleading for votes among those who should be her most loyal supporters - coalminers in the Labor heartland of the Illawarra.The Coalition, by contrast, has fanned out across the state, sending shadow ministers in four buses to all 93 electorates, with their leader, Barry O'Farrell, heading straight into Labor strongholds.While Ms Keneally was trying to save Labor seats in Wollongong, Cabramatta, Fairfield and Bankstown, Mr O'Farrell was bravely entering enemy territory, urging voters to abandon Labor for the sake of "real change in NSW".The latest poll shows change is coming. The Essential Media Communications poll taken over the weekend gives the Coalition a lead over Labor of 66 per cent to 34 on a two-party preferred basis. This would leave Labor with as few as 13 seats in the lower house.First stop for the Coalition yesterday was Drummoyne, then it was on to Strathfield, Kogarah, Rockdale and other points in Sydney's west. All are Labor seats but are under serious threat from the Coalition.After criticisms that Mr O'Farrell's campaign has been lacklustre in comparison to the efforts of his opponent, who has been nicknamed the Energiser Bunny for her endless energy, the Opposition Leader had a noticeable spring in his step yesterday.For the first time in the long campaign, Mr O'Farrell seemed ready to take on the Labor machine and win.With his most senior shadow cabinet colleagues by his side - including Brad Hazzard, Gladys Berejiklian and Mike Gallacher - Mr O'Farrell confidently strode through Labor electorate after electorate, greeting all comers.He read nursery rhymes to children at a day care centre, chatted with voters at a swimming pool and shook hands with countless people at shopping centres, including the former Labor premier Barrie Unsworth, who he ran into in Rockdale.Echoing the Premier, he said his team would not stop fighting until the close of polls at 6pm on Saturday."Over the next 60 hours, these four buses will hit every electorate across the state, fight for every vote and listen to every voice of every citizen across this state," Mr O'Farrell said at Olympic Park early yesterday."This is about saying to people across NSW we are determined to give everyone in all the electorates the chance to vote for real change on Saturday."After his western suburbs offensive, Mr O'Farrell will be boarding a bus again today to head north to repeat the message in vulnerable seats in Newcastle and the Hunter, again electorates traditionally fiercely Labor.

© 2011 Sydney Morning Herald

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