Gladys’ team has room for improvement
IT'S only six months until NSW goes to the polls and the government is still floundering after its Wagga Wagga by-election defeat.
Less than two weeks after Premier Gladys Berejiklian pledged her government would stop talking about itself and focus on voters, two of her Cabinet - Dominic Perrottet and Ray Williams - have been involved in a messy stoush over preselections.
It's emblematic of a lack of focus that could cost them next March. The government has a huge building program and oversees a strong economy but it's still failing to connect with voters.
Here's our report card on how the Premier and key ministers are performing.
Gladys Berejiklian, Premier
Dubbed the NSW Head Girl for her straighty-180 style, no one can accuse the Premier of failing to work hard enough. But the truth is Gladys Berejiklian needs to work smarter, not harder. She's overseeing a massive infrastructure building program and a strong economy but is struggling to sell her message to voters, who are looking for something more. Her own colleagues say she needs to be stronger and that there's such a thing as being too consultative. For now, the Premier only gets a B.
John Barilaro, Deputy Premier
The Nationals leader is a straight talker who'll go where others fear to tread.
Mr Barilaro has managed to scrape together every dollar he can for the bush and isn't afraid to stick his neck out for the Nationals when he feels the government isn't getting it right.
This can cause a headache for Ms Berejiklian but he is gutsy - which as a Nationals leader is a must.
He has his work cut out for him with a tough fight in the bush, but appears to be up for the challenge.
Dominic Perrottet, Treasurer
The Treasurer handed down a solid Budget in June, with a sweetener for nearly every demographic. Perrottet is also overseeing the strongest economy in the nation.
The problem is we've seen little of him since his Budget and now suddenly he hits the headlines for a preselection stoush with a fellow minister. Way to follow the brief of not talking about yourselves, guys. Instant points docked.
Still, he's one of this government's top performers and a possible future leader.
Niall Blair, Primary Industries
Niall "trust me, I'm a fisherman" Blair would have flown under the radar until he punted up the flopped marine parks proposal last month. Talk about flunking a final exam - his proposal baffled colleagues and stakeholders. As a fisherman and a National he should have known better than to even float a fishing lockout, which has stung the government badly.
Don Harwin, Resources, Energy and Arts
Electricity bill pain could lose the government the election and Don Harwin has been too quiet a voice on this issue. However, he can be commended for the passion with which he takes to his arts responsibilities. He has been strong in driving the plans to move the Powerhouse to Western Sydney. Unfortunately it's going to be electricity prices that cost seats and no museum move is going to make up for that.
Andrew Constance, Transport
He is one of the government's strongest political performers - trouble is he's overseeing a portfolio that's been riddled with problems. Many - such as the light rail - predated his appointment, but he has to cop the brunt of the pain and his grade suffers for this. He was right to go to war with the Spanish firm holding up the light rail. But his all-out blue with the unions was less wise and Ferry McFerryFace was a low point.
Brad Hazzard, Health
Known as Mr Fixit, Brad Hazzard copped a notoriously poisonous portfolio with a can-do attitude. He's proactive at combating problems and seems to have a way of dealing with them before they blow up. He's strong on policy issues like the flu and medicinal marijuana but has problems in regional areas, including concerns over nurse to patient ratios. A solid performer with a tough brief.
Rob Stokes, Education
Rob Stokes is known for his sharp intellect. He's ordered reviews into the problem of smartphones in schools and is demanding better standards of teaching graduates. He is delivering airconditioning to schools and performs most strongly in these kinds of infrastructure building areas. But he can be too cautious in public comments - particularly on social issues - and it's time for him to speak up if he's going to stand out.
Gabrielle Upton, Environment
She has turned the environment portfolio into a danger zone and secured a reputation as one of the government's worst performers in the process. The container deposit scheme was a bad policy to begin with but Upton also bungled the roll out. She hasn't helped herself with poor media performances and reports of staff complaints. Several colleagues say she'll go in the next reshuffle (should they get one).
Stuart Ayres, Sport
Stuart Ayres has had to manage the bitterly divisive stadiums policy. To his credit he rode out fierce Labor attacks but, of course, things never should have been so difficult and his ties to the saga costs him in his final grade. Honourable mention for being a strong advocate for Western Sydney.
Melinda Pavey, Roads
She performs well off the cuff and she gets solid points for heavily pursuing road safety, particularly in regional areas. But she's docked marks for her handling of a $100 million IT outsourcing debacle.