Election is Baird's to lose

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Mike Baird would probably have to be pictured frying up Peppa Pig on a barbecue or endorsing Kale sandwiches before he fell out of favour with the NSW public and became a chance of losing the State Election in March.

I have a feeling that the March 28 election is going to be something of a fizzer.

In fact, I’m predicting Laurie Oakes will have called the election on Channel Nine so early that the network will be able to squeeze in an extra ‘The Big Bang Theory’ repeat episode.

And it’s incredible to think that it’ll happen despite the Coalition going through all the dramas at ICAC and losing the likeable Barry O’Farrell as Premier.

Mr Baird has slipped into the Premier’s chair with relative ease in terms of public recognition and acceptance.

On the opposite side of the fence, Luke Foley would be unlikely to win a Celebrity Faces competition any time soon – nobody knows who the bloke is.

And that in many ways all comes down to timing.

In Mr Baird’s case, he became Liberal leader and within days was front and centre on every news broadcast in the country thanks to the Royal Visit by Prince William and Catherine.

There was simply no better public introduction for the new Premier – and Mr Baird enjoyed instant recognition as a result.

In Mr Foley’s case, he took the job in a period of the year when very few people are interested in what’s happening in the news, let alone state politics.

John Robertson resigned just days before Christmas and barely anybody noticed.

When Luke Foley was confirmed as Labor leader on January 5, most people were more interested in how many wickets Australia had taken at the cricket or more importantly, how many beers were left in the fridge. It simply didn’t rate in the interest factor – very little does at this time of year.

Tragedies also often provide glimpses of real leadership, and when the Martin Place siege happened last year, Mike Baird really stood up.

He was visibly shaken by the events that were unfolding, but he provided stoic leadership and said the right things at the right time.

Nobody wants tragedies like that to happen, but sometimes in politics, those tragedies can open the door for opportunities to prove to the public that you have the capabilities and the knowledge to handle difficult situations.

John Howard’s response to the Port Arthur massacre is one such example.

Luke Foley faces a massive challenge in the next few months as he tries to not only inform the electorate of his policies, but ensure that the same electorate knows who he is.

He has an interesting story to tell.

He was raised from the age of seven solely by his mother, has worked in call centres to make ends meet and studied at the University of New South Wales.

He has three kids, is in his mid-40s and speaks well. But is anybody listening?

In many ways, the work done by Labor candidates Prue Car, Emma Husar and Todd Carney in the local area has taken a hit given the change of leader so close to the election.

The powers that be in Labor were left with no choice but to replace Mr Robertson, but it will do very little to help them on March 28.

Their best bet is clawing back a few seats state-wide and bringing back the margins held by MPs such as Penrith’s Stuart Ayres.

Then they may have a real shot in 2019.

As for Mike Baird, he probably can’t wait until polls close on March 28.

It really is his election to lose.

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