When the NSW Liberals launched their election campaign at the Penrith Panthers Leagues Club, the crowd cheered as Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared the state "can have it all”.
Meanwhile, just 50 kilometres away at the Revesby Worker’s Club in Sydney’s South-West, Labor leader Michael Daley was telling the gathered hopeful that: “We can win this election!”
What has followed since then, is a slew of spending commitments designed to win over the people of NSW.
Both parties have made it clear - there’s money for schools; for hospitals; for rural roads; and for new train lines.
Except on the wedge issue of stadiums – it looks like they are promising money for the exact, same things.
So, let’s break it down.
Here’s what you need to know about where each party wants to spend your tax dollars.
Currently the Coalition has committed the most amount of money to pre-election promises – 20 billion dollars to Labor’s $15.1 billion.
This is because the Nationals feel very vulnerable to minor party incursion in regional and rural seats and have promised money for projects in a bid to secure support.
Additionally, the Coalition has a more ambitious view for certain infrastructure projects in Sydney, like the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link.
And yes, they are going to spend $2 billion rebuilding the Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park and refurbishing Stadium Australia at Homebush.
HEALTH AND HOSPITALS
As well as hiring new health workers, both parties have promised to upgrade hospitals.
The Coalition has committed $780 million to redevelop the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle; $385 million for upgrades to the St George Hospital; $479 million for Ryde Hospital; $428 million towards a new cancer centre at the Children’s Hospital at Randwick; $619 million for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead; $750 million to upgrade the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; and $1.3 billion to relocate the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital.
Labor has chosen to splash cash at other hospitals, promising a $1 billion redevelopment of the Nepean Hospital in Penrith; $200 million for Goulburn Hospital; $140 million for Manning Base Hospital in Taree; and $434 million for Shoalhaven Hospital in the state’s south. Additionally, Labor has promised $700 million to build a new hospital in Sydney’s fast-growing North-West region; $175 million for a hospital in Eurobodalla and has claimed that it wants to upgrade Bathurst Hospital in the future but has refrained from committing funding at this stage. Labor also wants to invest $5.7 million in the Sydney Children’s Hospital and $5 million to help open five 24 hour pharmacies.
TRANSPORT AND ROADS
Transport will be a key issue for many voters.
The Coalition has moved to ease congestion in the train-less commuter belt of the Northern Beaches, by promising to fund the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches link. It's been estimated to cost up to $14 billion to complete – although a federal Liberal government is likely to help pick up part of the bill. Also on the cards is $2.6 billion for the first part of the Arncliffe to Kogarah F6 extension and an extra $450 million to help ease congestion on roads that are notorious for getting banked up during peak hour.
Labor has pledged $1.1 billion to generally ease congestion and $900 million to improve the safety of rural roads. They have also promised to bring back the M4 Cashback scheme, allowing the drivers of private cars to claim back toll costs incurred when using the M4 - at a cost of about $113 million. Crucially, Labor has decided not to fund the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches link, stating that they would prefer to spend that money on public transport projects. Instead, the $8 billion not spent on a tunnel, would go towards fast-tracking the construction of the Metro West line from Sydney to Westmead, which is due to start in 2020.
The Coalition will also commit money to the Metro West, at a value of $6.4 billion. And it has planned to build a metro line from St Mary’s to the new Western Sydney Airport - at a cost of $2 billion.
REGIONAL AND RURAL
No matter who wins Saturday's election, the people of regional NSW will benefit from a concerted effort by both parties to win their favour.
For starters, both the Coalition and Labor have vouched to spend the entirety of the $4.2 billion from the sale of the state's share in the Snowy-Hydro Scheme, in the bush - on various projects.
Water will also be a focus for both parties. Labor and the Coalition have dedicated $1 billion and $1.4 billion respectively to build and upgrade water infrastructure in regional areas.
The Coalition will also spend $400 million to improve internet and mobile coverage in remote areas and will also spend another $1 billion on rural road maintenance.
But will this renewed bipartisanship and interest in the bush, be enough to fight off the threat of minor parties such as the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers, who are polling very well in seats outside Sydney.
EDUCATION AND TAFE
It’s no secret that both parties are vying for the support of families – which is why both are prepared to spend a lot on schools.
Labor has promised to top-up public school funding by $2.7 billion over the forward estimates, in order to meet the recommendations outlined by the Gonski education recommendations. They have also promised to build at least 50 new public schools, hire an additional 5000 teachers and install air conditioning in every public school across the state.
The Coalition has also come out in favour of cool air, committing $500 million so that 1000 public schools will get air conditioning over the next five years. They are also pro-teacher, pledging to hire an additional 4600 teachers - but they have not committed to increasing funding to Gonski levels. The Coalition will however require schools to stay open 7am to 6pm to provide adequate before and after school care, in order to ease the burden on working families. The Coalition has also promised to “build or upgrade” 170 schools across the state.
When it comes to TAFE, Labor is going hard - promising to "rescue" the system amid accusations of mismanagement by the current government. It says it will make TAFE free for 600,000 students over the next decade, at an initial cost of $64.5 million (for the first four years).
In an attempt to differentiate themselves, the Coalition has promised $2 billion over the next four years, to fund 700,000 free TAFE and VET courses. These are qualification courses completed through private providers. They will also put $80 million into a new, large TAFE campus in Sydney’s West and $64 million into eight new regional TAFE campuses; Batemans Bay, Byron Bay, Cobar, Hay, Jindabyne, Nambucca Heads, Nelsons Bay and West Wyalong.
Labor is making the environment an election issue. It's promising to hold an inquiry into the Menindee-Darling fish kills, and ban plastic bags - if elected. They will also introduce a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050 – the latter of which the Coalition has promised to match. To help reach these targets, Labor is promising rebates up to $2200 for solar panels on 500,000 homes. - Story and research, Lachlan Moffet Gray