Former Prime Minister John Howard spoke at length in praise of Liberal MP Stuart Ayres, who is battling to hold onto one of the most marginal seats in the NSW state election.
Speaking at the Liberal Party’s Keep Western Sydney Moving Forward rally on Sunday, Mr Howard said Mr Ayres was the “epitome of a very good minister.”
The seat of Penrith is held by the Liberals by just 0.6 per cent.
Mr Ayres is facing an uphill battle to retain the key seat from a contest by former Penrith mayor Karen McKeown, who is running for Labor.
Mr Ayres has faced controversy over his role in the appointment of John Barilaro in a $500,000 trade commissioner role in 2022.
While he was cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), a scathing upper house inquiry found Mr Barilaro’s appointment had all the trademarks of a “jobs for the boys” and Mr Ayres was ”not at ‘arm’s length’” during the recruitment process.
Subsequent investigations led to Mr Ayres lose his ministry portfolios.
Despite the findings, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet confirmed Mr Ayres would be returned to the front bench if the Coalition retains government.
On Sunday Mr Howard spoke glowingly of the incumbent MP, who he was seen campaigning with early this week.
“Stuart Ayres has been the epitome of an outstanding hardworking, dedicated local member,” Mr Howard said.
“He will help where he can, and when he tells you why you can he leaves you in no doubt as to what his attitude is.
“Now that can I say to you ladies and gentlemen, is what makes a good minister.”
The former Prime Minister introduced Mr Perrottet to rapturous applause from Liberal loyalists and praised the Premier for his policies on gambling reform, and giving home buyers the choice between stamp duty or an annual property tax.
In the crowd was the Premier’s wife, Helen Perrottet and their three children, Annabelle, Charlotte and Celeste.
“I admire the courage that he‘s displayed,” he said.
“I admire the vision he‘s displayed on economic policy in giving young homebuyers the prospect of avoiding the burden of large amounts of stamp duty and over time, developing an alternative.”
Mr Howard was less glowing of Mr Perrottet’s rival, Chris Minns, and the support he’s been given by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, calling the Labor launch a “mini launch of the re-elect Anthont Albanese campaign”.
“One of the things that struck me about the launch of the Labour Party campaign for Chris Minns was the overwhelming presence of Anthony Albanese,” he said.
“Now, of course, you have to ask yourself that under Minns, will Labor’s economic approach be very similar to that of Albanese. And of course the answer to that has to be a resounding yes.”
Dom’s pledge for cheaper transport
Commuters across NSW could also pay less for transport, in a last-minute election promise which will reduce the weekly Opal card cap by $10 for adults, and $5 for concession holders.
Mr Perrottet announced that new limits will be set at $40 (from $50) for adults and $20 (from $25) for concession holders.
It’s estimated adult commuters could save about $480 per year, with a family of two adults and two children, saving $1360.
If elected, the $68m policy will come into effects from May 1 and run until June 30.
Residents in Sydney’s West and Greater Sydney are expected to benefit the most, with suburbs like Penrith, Parramatta, East Hills and the Blue Mountains flagged.
Adults travelling by train from Penrith in Sydney‘s west to the CBD can spend $7.24 each way, or $14.48 on a return trip. Under the new cap, commuters can make the $40 cap in six trips, instead of seven under the current cap.
Ferry commuters who pay $8.04 each way ($16.08 a day) can also reach the cap by their fifth trip, instead of the seventh.
Story Credit: news.com.au