The Coalition has come through with a decisive with at the New South Wales state election.
Led by Mike Baird, the Liberal and National parties have won the 47 seats needed to claim government in the 93-seat parliament.
Making his victory speech Baird said NSW voters chose “hope over fear” and thanked Luke Foley, describing him as a “tough” opponent.
With the crowd chanting “Four more years! Four more years!” Baird declared: “I love this state!”
He said the Coalition had to battle “the biggest scare campaign” in the state’s history.
“Tonight the people of NSW have given us that mandate,” he said.
“Despite the scare tonight we have achieved some swings to us.”
Baird paid tribute to Liberal stalwart Tony Nutt, John Howard’s former principal private secretary, who saw the Liberals to victory in Victoria under Ted Baillieu, and then came to work on the NSW campaign as the NSW Liberals executive director.
He also paid tribute to his wife, Kerryn, saying “everyone knows I’m punching above my weight”.
Addressing a Labor event on Saturday night, opposition leader Luke Foley congratulated Baird and conceded defeat.
“A little while ago I rang Mike Baird and congratulated him on leading the Liberal and National party to an election win tonight,” Foley said.
“He steered the ship to safety. He is a formidable opponent who is at the peak of his popularity.
He also thanked former Liberal premier Barry O’Farrell for his service to NSW.
Foley said it was “too soon” for NSW voters to elect the Labor party.
“I understand this decision and I accept it,” he said. “Labor must be relevant to the here and now. The Labor Party must earn its future.”
Foley said he expected the Labor party would finish up with just over 30 seats, up from the 20 it secured at the previous election.
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