ALP ready for election early

NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says he doesn’t follow opinion polls and is not turning his mindtowards campaigning for next year’s State election.

But someone in the Government’s Macquarie Street headquarters is, and appears to have decided to launch the battle for the 2011 poll more than 12 months early.

Mr Hatzistergos, in Lismore yesterday at the invitation of Lismore MP Thomas George to unveil a plaque officially opening the refurbished Zadoc Street office of the NSW Trustee and Guardian, before heading to Woodenbong to open the new S W Reid Bridge, was one of 11 NSW ministers travelling the State to announce programs, address functions and open infrastructure projects.

The sound of nearly half the Ministry’s boots hitting the road was accompanied by a volley fired off by Rural Affairs Minister Steve Whan, who apparently does follow opinion polls, declaring the NSW Nationals were on ‘the verge of extinction’, based on a new Morgan Poll, conveniently missing the bit of the poll that said theLiberal/Nationals coalition would have won government had an election been held this week.

But you couldn’t call that campaigning, could you?

When asked about the poll and whether the Government had entered campaign mode, Mr Hatzistergos said: “I know opinion polls fascinate members of the media, but we have a job to do on behalf of the people of NSW and we’re committed to seeing that through.”

Besides, he said, opening things and attending functions did not win votes anyway.

“People don’t judge governments on the basis of one event or one policydecision,” he said.

“They judge from an assessment of the government and take into account the strengths and weaknesses of our own performance compared with the alternative.”

If we’re imagining it, Lismore MP Thomas George is sharing the hallucination.

“They are in campaign mode. They have been ever since (former Premier Nathan Rees was dumped),” he said.

That said, Mr George rejected the idea that yesterday’s opening was part of a pre-campaign campaign.

He had invited the Attorney-General to the opening of the final block in a rejuvenated legal and social services precinct that included the court, the new police station and the new DoCS building.

However, Mr George was ready to indulge in a little campaigning himself, warning a Coalition win next year was no fait accompli and taking a swipe at Roads and Transport Minister David Campbell, who turned down his invitation to do the honours at Woodenbong’s S W Reid Bridge opening ceremony.

But who can blame Mr Campbell for not wanting to risk a drive up the Pacific Highway?

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