Thank you, religious right! The NSW Liberal
Party doesn’t stand a prayer of a chance at next March’s state election, going
by two new polls. Newspoll
gives the ALP 52% of the two party preferred vote, compared to 48% for the Coalition.

There’s an even starker contrast in the
Morgan poll.
Their 2PP figures put the Iemma Government on 57% and the Coalition
down on 43.

It’s a surprise result. Sydney’s road and
rail problems drag on day after day. The Government has taken a blow with the
collapse of the Snowy Hydro privatisation. The state budget has been forced
into deficit.

Yet NSW Labor enjoys a substantial buffer.
There are very few marginals. Winning enough seats to form government has
always been a major ask for the NSW Liberals.

And it’s becoming even more of an ask,
thanks to the religious right. The NSW Liberal vote is soft. The party faithful
are being driven away by single issue campaigners and becoming disengaged.
Supporters are being turned off by zealots. Independents are threatening its
grasp on what should be safe electorates.

Will it be enough to force leader Peter
Debnam and the party’s state executive – not to mention the most senior NSW
Liberal, John Howard – to act?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey