For a quick taste of how exceedingly, excruciatingly, appalling woeful this weekend’s NSW election is looking, try today’s quick sample:

  • The Terror leads with a study commissioned by CityRail showing Sydney’s rail system is the worst in any major city anywhere on all measures of efficiency, cost effectiveness, reliability and maintenance – and CityRail, perhaps knowing the minister wouldn’t want to know, has sat on the report.
  • The SMH has the government trying to hide a report showing a 10-year backlog on school maintenance and a RailCorp cover-up of a report on potentially catastrophic train accidents.
  • Labor’s “hand-picked star recruit” for the safe seat of Newcastle couldn’t name the Premier of Queensland.
  • And despite everything, when taking on arguably the worst state government in the country, the Liberals are reduced to desperately trying to save their existing seats rather than winning some from Labor.

There have been very low, highly corrupt times in NSW history, but for sheer blithering incompetence of both government and opposition, 2007 is very hard to beat.

And, given the overwhelming and very public shortcomings of the government, one can only conclude the opposition is the more incompetent of the two in its inability to land a blow.

From the opinion polls, it seems all the Tories have been able to do is convince the electorate that Peter Debnam is a goose leading a party of geese. But that’s being a bit harsh on the birds.

Voters are left with the conclusion that, while the Pubs, Clubs and Developers Party runs a corrupt and inept government, the Liberals would be worse.

If there’s any demonstration needed, it’s in the two advertising campaigns. Labor’s wins hands down, very successfully targeting Debnam’s financial management record in an echo of what the Liberals did to Mark Latham, as well as hitting the WorkChoices button and Debnam’s promise to cut 20,000 jobs.

The Liberal effort by comparison is lacklustre and tedious, offering a halfhearted slap at Costa, Sartor and Tripodi and allowing Iemma to walk free – by omission, assisting the impression Iemma has tried to create that he has had nothing to do with the current mess. Just plain stupid.

So the Sussex Street gravy train rolls on for the faithful (even if ordinary trains don’t) and the Tories can have four more years of what they do best – self-destruction.

When they’re looking for people to blame on Sunday morning, they are those who promised to back-stab Barry O’Farrell if he had taken the leadership after Brogden. O’Farrell didn’t run, the ideologically-driven got the man they wanted in the job and the NSW public is left with the most miserable choice to make an election since, well, the last one.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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