Eight Cabinet Ministers are in the Melbourne Cup field of wannabees to become the 49th Premier of NSW.
In keeping with NSW Liberal Party tradition all the runners are male and white. All of them are from Sydney, and the majority had a private education at fee-paying private schools.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, MP for Epping since 2019. He previously held Castle Hill and Hawkesbury. Perrottet was born in 1982, the third eldest of 12 children. Perrottet and wife, Helen, have 6 children. As a rabid Christian conservative, Perrottet is opposed to the reform of abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage laws. At Sydney University he campaigned against student unionism, then joined law firm Henry Davis York, specialising in bank strategies for privatisation and outsourcing and easing the bankruptcy laws. Odds: 2-1.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance, MP for Bega on the South Coast but with a residence in Sydney. Aged 48, Constance has served in senior roles in all three Liberal administrations of Barry O’Farrell, Mike Baird and Ms Berejiklian since 2011.
He is widely ridiculed for his “on-again-off-again” attitude to a political career in Sydney and Canberra. Odds: 10-1.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Stokes was educated at fee-paying private Sydney Church of England Grammar (Shore), and received a BA, MA and PhD at Macquarie University plus a Diploma od Biblical Studies and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
A leading member of the party’s “wet” faction, Stokes has been courting right-wingers to strengthen his numbers. Odds: 8-1.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman SC, MP for Cronulla in Sydney’s south, is a legal and political high-flyer.
He attended Caringbah High School before studying law and economics at Sydney University and then taking a master’s degree at Cambridge University in England. As a lawyer he is used to taking orders, not giving them. There are also doubts about his ability to create a team to administer the Premier State. Odds: 8-1.
Police Minister David Elliott, MP for Baulkham Hills in Sydney’s evangelical zone, since 2011. Born in 1970, Elliott trained at Duntroon before joining the army reserve and serving overseas. In 1995 he was press secretary to Liberal Party leader Peter Collins and in 1999 rose to prominence as director of the constitutional monarchists’ campaign against Australia becoming a republic. He became CEO of the NSW division of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and in 2019 attracted publicity for posting a message to a “mate” that he’d “rip your head off and shit in the hole”. Odds: 15-1.
Corrections Minister Anthony Roberts, MP for Lane Cove since 2003. Roberts formerly held the portfolios of Planning, Housing, Industry, Resources and Energy and Fair Trading. An ex-student of St Ignatius College (Riverview), Roberts was a Lane Cove councillor (1995 and 2003) and served two terms of mayor. He is the “dark horse” of the Premiership runners. His influential Liberal Party backers include two former prime ministers, John Howard and Tony Abbott, and Alan Jones. Odds: 8-1.
Football Stadiums Minister Stuart Ayres, MP for Penrith since 2010. Ayres was educated at St Dominic’s College in Kingswood and his partner is Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne. They trouser a total of at least $500,000-a-year between them. A former Sports Minister, Minister for WestConnex, Minister for Western Sydney, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Fair Trading, Ayres is fighting for re-endorsement for his seat, or finding a new one. Odds: 15-1.
Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean, MP for Hornsby since 2011. Growing up in Wahroonga on the North Shore, Kean was educated at St Ignatius College, Riverview, and took a Bachelor of Business degree at the University of Technology, then obtained a graduate diploma at the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Before entering parliament, Kean was an adviser to Liberal Party leader John Brogden and Catherine Cusack, MLC. He was a former manager at pro-conservative consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Odds: 25-1.
Betting is slow because the field is bereft of real talent, ideas or imagination. In the words of the old stable boss, “This lot are real hay-burners, not even worth racing.”
But a stable-hand reputedly piped up: “They’re not only hay-burners, they’re money-burners as well.” And the stable-hand could have added, “Yes, as long as it’s our money and not theirs.”