Former PM Rallies Liberals as Parties Target Western Sydney

Former prime minister John Howard will help the Liberals rally the party faithful in the western Sydney marginal seat of Penrith as parties make their final pushes for votes ahead of polling day.

The scheduled appearance on Sunday will be Howard’s second outing in Penrith, coming a few days after he campaigned with Stuart Ayres, who holds the seat with a 0.6 per cent margin.

Treasurer Matt Kean will miss the event, choosing instead to make a local funding announcement in Oatley, held by Multiculturalism Minister Mark Coure by 6.8 per cent.

Labor will rally in a seat key to its election chances, Parramatta.

The gateway to western Sydney is held on a 6.5 per cent margin but changing demographics and the retirement of incumbent Geoff Lee have placed it on a knife’s edge.

Labor on Sunday committed $75 million to recruit an additional 250 full-time-equivalent school counsellors in the next term to deal with what the party says is a growing mental health crisis in NSW schools.

The Greens, taking advantage of sweltering temperatures in the city’s outer suburbs on Sunday, will call for a “climate-smart” western Sydney.

This would include a green-belt urban boundary, council-specific tree targets and a home buyback scheme for the lowest parts of the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain.

Meanwhile, independents Helen Conway, Larissa Penn and Victoria Davidson will protest bus cancellations on Sydney’s north shore by riding a crowdfunded one-off bus route created by frustrated commuters.

The campaigning comes as Labor accuses Premier Dominic Perrottet of lying about plans to privatise Sydney Water.

In a Sky News interview on Friday, the premier said privatising Sydney Water “has never been something that has ever been considered by our government, or ever would be.”

But Labor said it uncovered documents showing a privatisation scoping study related to a $1.5 billion asset of Sydney Water was conducted in April 2021.

Perrottet has repeatedly told voters Sydney Water will not be privatised and accused Labor of a “Mediscare-style” campaign.

Previously, he also questioned Chris Minns how NSW Labor leader would finance big infrastructure projects, arguing that it could lead to project cancellations and tax increases.

The premier on Saturday hit back at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s criticism of his Kids Future Fund, a proposed superannuation-style fund for children born after 2012.

Albanese said the fund, in which the government matches parental contributions up to $400 per year, would create a greater divide between rich and poor.

“For the prime minister to come out … and say that he’s against, like NSW Labor, setting up a future fund account for our children shows how out of touch he is with the challenges that families are facing today,” Perrottet said on Saturday.

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