Who won the top debate between Dominic Perrottet and Chris Minns? Our experts have their say

State Political Reporter

VERDICT: Minns win

At the best of times, not much separates these two guys, personally or politically.

But in a relatively lackluster campaign, one of the biggest differences between the two was spending, and Minns was better able to argue why his more budget-constrained plan was the right one. He pushed Perrottet onto the back foot several times, attacking him over the mounting debt he has accumulated and arguing that infrastructure is not being built in the right areas. Western Sydney is suffering, he said.

Although Perrottet ruled this out as often as possible, Minns hammered home the coalition’s track record of privatization and warned that if they were returned to government, history would repeat itself.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however, Minns was shaky on his plan to abolish the public sector wage cap and could not guarantee that nurses and teachers would earn more under a Labor government. But even when the Prime Minister was asked the questions, he was forced to respond to Minn’s counter-arguments. I thought the Labor leader was the one who seemed most in control for most of the debate.

Leading Economics Writer

VERDICT: Perrottet wins

chief reporter

VERDICT: Minns win

Perrottet seemed nervous during Wednesday’s debate; there was a sense of frustration that his narration was not understood. Minns was calm, almost nonchalant. He pushed the discussion forward and put Perrottet in a defensive position, allowing the PM to pick at flaws in Labor’s arguments and justify his policies.

Minns was on the front foot early. He wasn’t afraid to be frank – he was moving in a small target area – when he declined to say whether public sector workers would be paid more and responded to the coalition’s plan to cut food prices by saying pointed out that the government does not control these costs.

But Perrottet scored a hit when he accused Minn’s lack of vision and recalled the former Labor government’s repeated promises to build a north-western railway line, which was eventually built by the Coalition. He drew attention to the downside of Minns’ management of caution and expectation, namely the lack of a grand plan for the state’s future.

His tribute to his predecessor, Gladys Berejiklian, was also heartfelt, and Perrottet gave an eloquent explanation of his cashless gaming policy in contrast to Minns’ muddled, unconvincing response.

If the confidence was any indication during that debate, Minns expects to win.

Transport and Infrastructure Editor

VERDICT: Perrottet wins

With inflation rising in the minds of voters, Minns and Perrottet have repeatedly traded blows over bread-and-butter issues such as the burden imposed on motorists by Sydney’s extensive toll road network.

Both leaders offer subsidies to regular users of toll roads, while Perrottet highlighted the benefits of building new motorways, citing the reduction in traffic on major arteries such as Parramatta Road as a result of WestConnex.

In an attempt to highlight the coalition’s economic credentials, Perrottet again cited its track record of delivering critical infrastructure, noting that more highways and multi-billion dollar subway lines will open in the coming years.

Minns, on the other hand, repeatedly pounded Perrottet on whether the coalition would privatize Sydney Water to pay for mega-projects if she were re-elected, which the PM again ruled out.

With so much at stake for both men, the debate was a civil affair just 10 days before the state election. In the end, it was the pPremier that got the slight edge in today’s competition.

Senior Writer

VERDICT: Perrottet wins

Perrottet would bang his hand up and down like a metronome whenever he was given a free hand, as if trying to dampen his own momentum. He warned early on of economic headwinds that would endanger jobs, set the course for his own solutions and radiated urgency.

Minns conjured up an image of a state in chaos, with schools and hospitals facing a “crisis” of retention and promising a better way under Labour. But his solutions and the way he presented them lacked luster, instead presenting himself as an honest ambassador of a dreary truth that basic measures like wage increases and toll relief would help voters the most.

He early raised the prospect of privatization among the coalition, and it returned like a chorus amid dark warnings that the government would be unable to pay for its infrastructure plans if it didn’t. But he was strongest when he offered reasons to vote against the government, while Perrottet offered them something to vote for.

Sydney Editor

VERDICT: Perrottet wins

I thought the climax of that debate came when the two leaders traded barbs on how and where Sydney should grow, with Perrottet coming out on top – but only just.

Minn’s argument for balancing housing growth back towards the east half of Sydney is understandable, given that west Sydney is feeling the pinch (and Minns needs to gain seats there).

But Perrottet is right: if it is ‘monstrously unfair’ for the West to take more housing without adequate infrastructure, why is Labor shutting down the Parramatta-New Airport and Bankstown-Liverpool Metro lines?

Minns wants to hurt Perrottet over debt and whether he is privatizing assets to pay them back.
But the PM was persuasive enough that infrastructure debt is good debt.

If Minns can hit the North Shore NIMBYs on the head, that’ll be a good thing. And he’s right about the Libs being afraid of the teals.

But it seems to deny reality, denying that Sydney’s growth will be mostly in the West. In this case, Minns’ position with less housing and less infrastructure leaves him vulnerable.

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Justin Scaccy

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