Prime Minister Julia Gillard has joined Premier Kristina Keneally in appealing to NSW residents not to give the state coalition a “blank cheque” when they vote in six days’ time.
More than 300 of the party faithful gathered on Sunday at the Western Suburbs Leagues Club at Leumeah, in Sydney’s southwest, for Labor’s official campaign launch.
Ms Gillard opened the event by warning voters that Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell was short on policy detail and had plans that families would dislike.
“Six days to go and the Liberal policy is hide and seek,” she said.
“That’s all we know about their policies.
“If Mr O’Farrell thought the people of NSW would support his policies he would tell us what they are – he won’t because he knows what he’s got planned will not be supported by the families of NSW; it’s not what they want.
“My message to the people of NSW is simple: don’t give Barry O’Farrell a blank cheque, don’t let Barry O’Farrell do whatever he wants.”
The coalition is expected to win in a landslide and reduce Labor’s numbers in the 93-member lower house to fewer than 20.
Ms Keneally followed Ms Gillard with a 25-minute speech that carried three main messages: the achievements of Labor’s 16 years in power, the dangers of a coalition government, and a plea to the faithful to keep campaigning hard until Saturday’s poll.
The premier, who will continue her Fairness for Families campaign bus tour this week, was greeted with a standing ovation when she called on Labor candidates, volunteers and supporters to go the distance to Saturday’s poll.
“Wait, there’s more,” Ms Keneally said to calm the room.
“I’m asking all of you to come along for the ride. I’m asking every single one of you to come along for the ride.”
Ms Keneally also promised to fund 750 new selective and opportunity-class places across nine public high schools and five public primary schools.
“A strong economy starts with education but it doesn’t finish there,” she said.
“As a government, we need to provide the services and the infrastructure that families rely upon.”
Ms Keneally also highlighted Labor’s other campaign promises, emphasising the provision of social services.
“Labor governments understand that whether the economy is good or not so good we need to stand behind families,” she said.
“We need to invest some services that care for those who are most in need.”
Ms Keneally accused Mr O’Farrell of planning to cut services and public-sector jobs if he is elected.
“We believe as the Labor Party that you can have a strong economy, secure jobs for workers and have rights for those workers,” she said.
“You don’t need to give up one at the expense of the other.”
Ms Keneally said NSW voters had a choice between a future with Labor or the coalition.
“Now Mr O’Farrell thinks he has this election in the bag,” the premier said.
“He thinks he doesn’t have to tell us what it is that he’s going to do; he thinks he’s going to get a big blank cheque next Saturday.
“He’s already planning his celebratory drinks for after the election.”
The launch was attended by former NSW premiers Bob Carr, Barrie Unsworth and Nathan Rees, who lost the top job to Ms Keneally.
Ms Keneally was joined by her husband Ben, her sons Daniel and Brendan, and her father John Kerscher, who is visiting from the US.
Author Tom Keneally, the uncle of the premier’s husband, was also in the crowd.
Also present were Labor MPs Barbara Perry, Andrew McDonald, Richard Amery, Greg Donnelly and Paul Pearce, and ministers Eric Roozendaal, Linda Burney, Verity Firth, Tony Kelly, Michael Daley, Phil Costa, John Hatzistergos and deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt.