Politicians staring down defeat can react badly.
They can be angry, boastful or refuse to admit failure if they think they have even the smallest chance of prevailing.
But not outgoing New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet who gave a gracious speech on Saturday night as he conceded defeat to Labor and prepared to hand over the top job to Chris Minns who he said would be a “fine Premier”.
It’s being seen as a “classy” move to end his tenure as state leader.
Mr Perrottet managed to hang onto his seat of Epping, in Sydney’s north, but confirmed he would be stepping down as leader of the NSW Liberal Party.
As of the end of counting at about 11pm on Saturday, Labor had won 47 seats to a combined 26 for the Liberals and Nationals. Independents had seven seats with the Greens on two. Eleven seats have yet to be called.
Mr Minns’ victory means every state and territory in Australia – bar Tasmania – has a Labor government.
Within the Liberal party, recriminations and examinations have already begun.
Outgoing NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet arrived at the Liberal Party event at the Sydney Hilton. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Monique Harmer
‘No doubt he will be a fine Premier’
Mr Perrottet arrived at the Liberal’s major party function at the Sydney Hilton to deliver a sombre speech shortly after privately calling Mr Minns to concede defeat.
“As leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party, I take full responsibility for the loss this evening … We need a fresh start for the Liberal Party,” he said.
“I want to thank the community of Epping and recognise their continued support.
He heaped praise on Mr Minns for keeping the election campaign from becoming “ugly”.
“The great people of NSW have tonight decided to elect a Labor government into this state, and that is a decision that we respect.
“I particularly tonight want to acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition. Elections can get ugly, but I believe this election are truly was a race to the top.
“A genuine battle of ideas, and that is when politics is at its best,” he said amid cheers in the room.
“In many ways, that is due to Chris Minns and of the way that he has carried himself throughout this campaign. And that is why I truly believe and have no doubt that he will make a fine 47th Premier of NSW.
Dominic Perrottet pictured on stage with his wife at the Liberal Election Party at the Hilton Hotel, Sydney CBD. Picture: Damian Shaw
“I believe he will lead with the same decency of the same integrity that he has led with so far. And ultimately, I ask everybody across NSW, whatever your political persuasion, to get behind him.”
Mr Perrottet said he was proud of what the Liberal government had achieved and it had “made history” as the longest serving government.
Highlights from the government’s time in power include three metro rail systems, a second airport opening soon, five days of free preschool for children and abolishing stamp duty for first homeowners as well as tackling gambling, Mr Perrottet added
“We have achieved all of this while navigating some of the most difficult times, droughts, fires, floods and we have pushed through the pandemic and lead our nation out of lockdown,” he added.
Many praised Mr Perrottet for delivering a ‘Classy” and gracious speech.
Classy concession speech from @Dom_Perrottet praising his opponent and urging the people of NSW to get behind @ChrisMinnsMP as the new Premier of NSW. Wish there was more of this in modern politics.
— Jenny Brockie (@JenBrockie) March 25, 2023
Classy all round mate, very respectful @Dom_Perrottet and @ChrisMinnsMP#nswelectionhttps://t.co/FtRcMorRVq
— Jim Wilson (@JimWilsonMedia) March 25, 2023
Hats off to Dominic Perrottet’s concession speech. Graceful and classy.
— Uriah Heep ðŸ³ï¸â€ðŸŒˆ (@notthebandfool) March 25, 2023
Two very decent men with wonderful speeches tonight. Classy, respectful and humorous at times. What a dignified election.
Congratulations to the Labor Party and commiserations to the Liberals; boy theyâ€™ve some soul searching to do and as Mr Perrottet said in need of a â€œresetâ€
— Mark Levy (@marklevy2gb) March 25, 2023
Premier-elect praises Perrottet
It was something of a leader love-in, with Mr Minns also praising his opponent and the civil conduct of the election during his own victory speech.
“I would like to say thank you to the premier for his service on behalf of the people of NSW. “It’s undeniably the case that this election campaign perhaps uniquely was a model of respect and civility and neither party took the low road or the low blow, and I think it can be a model for the way democracy is done right across this country.
“I can’t say that every election campaign in the future will be conducted the same way. But from now on, no one will be able to say that it can’t be.”
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns thanks Dominic Perrottet for his service. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Liberal Party heavyweights unleash
Treasurer Matt Kean said the numbers were “hard to look at” but blamed the “12-year factor” for the Liberals’ woes.
“I think it’s the 12 year factor. No Coalition government has ever won a fourth term in NSW,” he told the ABC.
“You accumulate barnacles.”
However, he conceded factional infighting and a series of ministerial scandals had impacted the Liberal campaign.
He said incidents like ex-Finance Minister Damien Tudehope cabinet resignation over his failure to disclose shareholdings in toll road operator Transurban had prevented the party from getting its message out to voters.
Former Minister Employee Relations Damien Tudehope resigned from cabinet during the election campaign. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Flavio Brancaleone
“A couple of weeks ago we saw a couple of ministers have to leave the portfolios, there are just a series of things that chewed up time,” he told the ABC.
“It was a distraction, we were defending ourselves rather than being on the attack on prosecuting a case to get re-elected.”
Federal Liberal MP Angus Taylor believes the NSW Liberal party was harmed by the cost of living woes being experienced by people.
Outgoing NSW Treasurer and Minister Energy Matt Kean is likely a front runner to lead the NSW Liberals. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
“People are looking for who to blame,” he told the ABC, adding it was “tough for incumbent governments”.
Labor deputy leader Prue Car told the ABC her party had “struck a chord with the people of NSW, talking about the issues that matter to people … do we have enough teachers? Do we have enough nurses?”
NSW election results: How your electorate votedAll the seats called in NSW election
“Privatisation is killing people’s cost of living, their household incomes, their household budgets,” she added.
The Londonderry MP said the results showed the party had campaigned on issues that mattered to voters.