NSW election 2023: How Chris Minns became one of Australia’s most powerful men
As Chris Minns romped to victory during the NSW state election on Saturday night, campaign insiders were stunned by the size of his landslide victory.
There had been an expectation that he would need to lean on the Greens or independent MPs to form a minority government.
But few in the Labor camp would have let themselves believe the former firefighter and one-time stay-at-home dad would earn a decisive majority mandate to become NSW’s 47th Premier – a two party preferred majority of up to 54.3 per cent to 43.7 per cent for the Coalition.
For all Minns’s quiet confidence throughout the campaign, the most surprised of all of them was the man himself.
He even still giggles when he’s referred to by his new title.
On air this morning with 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday morning, Mr Minns couldn’t help leaning away from the microphone for a quiet chuckle, when the traffic presenter, Wilbur, referred to him as ‘Premier’.
Minutes earlier, before the cameras were rolling, Mr Minns recalled being stopped in the street on Sunday while he was going for a walk by a voter, who said: ‘Hello, Premier’.
‘I had to turn my head around to see if someone was behind me,’ he said. ‘I still haven’t gotten used to it.’
For all his preparation and quiet confidence throughout the campaign, it would appear the only person shocked by the outcome of the election is the man himself.
On air this morning with 2GB’s Ben Fordham, Mr Minns had no choice but to whip his head away from the microphone for a quiet chuckle after traffic man Wilbur referred to him as the premier.
At one stage, he stepped away from politics to become a stay-at-home dad to his three boys, giving his wife Anna, a business owner and former lawyer with the director of public prosecutions, an opportunity to focus all her energy on her career
It’s this quiet humility which endeared so many voters towards him and his party in the first place – helping Mr Minns secure a historic win and drag Labor from the wilderness of NSW Opposition for the first time since 2011.
At one stage, he stepped away from politics to become a stay-at-home dad to his three boys, giving his wife Anna, a business owner and former lawyer with the director of public prosecutions, an opportunity to focus all her energy on her career.
And while he hasn’t made overt displays of excitement since claiming victory, Mr Minns wants to assure the public that it’s there.
It’s not me, it’s not in my nature. But I’m obviously thrilled,’ he said.
Mr Minns is yet to officially move into his new office, but it’s straight down to business regardless, as the new premier prepares to meet union bosses as early as this week to discuss his major promise of lifting wage caps on the public service sector.
I imagine [those discussions] will start very soon,’ he said. ‘There’s some agreements that expire in June, another in December… we’ll have to get our feet under the desk.’
Both the NSW Teachers Federation and NSW Nurses and Midwives Association have issued public statements describing Labor’s election as a win for their respective industries.
As part of his election campaign, Mr Minns vowed to abolish wage caps and introduce sweeping reforms to bolster both sectors.
He recalled being stopped in the street on Sunday while he was going for a walk by a voter, who said: ‘Hello, premier’. ‘I had to turn my head around to see if someone was behind me,’ he said. ‘I still haven’t gotten used to it.’
The new NSW Premier said he’s still getting used to his title
Chris Minns stood hand in hand with Anthony Albanese as they hailed in a new era
‘We need to keep and retain essential workers, particularly nurses, paramedics and teachers… we need to invest in human capital and look after the people who have worked so hard during the pandemic,’ he said.
‘We think we can get a sensible resolution and we’ve got to start that process.’
For teachers, he’s vowed to convert 10,000 existing temporary teacher positions to permanent roles as a matter of priority.
The new government plans to reduce administrative work in schools by five hours a week, change school zoning rules so children have access to a co-ed school and build new schools in Sydney Olympics Park and South West Sydney.
They will also build 100 new preschools, 50 new and expanded schools and establish TAFE Domestic Manufacturing Centres.
NSWTF president Angelo Gavrielatos issued a statement after his decisive win to say: ‘The clear defeat of the Perrottet Government puts an end to deliberate neglect and denial which has left our schools and TAFE in a state of crisis.
He was handed a framed newspaper front cover as a gift on his first day on the job
The Premier was pictured enjoying a coffee with his family after his resounding win.
‘(The) Federation is ready to work with the incoming Minn’s Government to urgently address the unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries of teachers that are responsible for the teacher shortage crisis.’
And for the healthcare sector, Mr Minns will increase the number of healthcare workers across NSW and implement continuous upgrades to existing hospitals.
The new Labor government will recruit an additional 1,200 nurses and midwives and up to 500 new paramedics to work in rural and regional areas.
The Minns government also plans to upgrade a number of hospitals in the state, beginning with facilities in Canterbury and Fairfield.
The Nurses and Midwives Association said: ‘Finally, we have an incoming government committed to repairing the systemic issues that have been hampering our health services, and to rebuilding confidence and trust within the state’s health workforce.
‘Many nurses and midwives who have reduced their clinical hours, changed roles, or left the profession altogether will be able to look to the future with a sense of hope.’
There’s several marginal seats in particular which will be hotly contested and could help win the election for either party.
Labor leader Chris Minns kisses his wife Anna as they vote at Carlton South Public school during the NSW state election in Sydney
Mr Minns’s cool, calm and collected demeanor bodes well for his premiership as he faces an uphill battle against a cost of living crisis, rising energy bills and a housing shortage.
Mr Minns also revealed he’d seek advice from outgoing premier Dominic Perrottet on how best to navigate his new role.
‘I think there’s things to learn and obviously we’ve got different policy issues but he might have views about the way parliament works or the machinery of government,’ he said.
‘We’d be crazy not to take his expertise and his experience on board.’
Mr Minns reiterated that he has always respected and liked Mr Perrottet, commending him again on running such a ‘clean’ and respectful election campaign.
The duo have been praised for the way they’ve handled their respective campaigns, refusing to engage in bickering or attacking each other on a personal level.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns is seen outside of Panania Public School with local candidate Kylie Wilkinson (left) on election day
All Australian mainland states and territories are commanded by Labor governments, with Tasmania being the outlier as the only Liberal-run state.
Mr Minns’ win at a glance
– Marks the first time we’ve had a NSW Labor premier and Labor PM simultaneously since March 2011 when Kristina Keneally and Julia Gillard were in charge
– Minns is the first state Labor leader since 1995 to have won from Opposition when Labor was in power federally
– He is only the fourth state Labor leader to win from Opposition since World War II
– First time Labor have been in government in NSW in 12 years
– All of mainland Australia is now Labor
‘He’s such a lovely person… I’m not going to change my view about him now the election is over. He’s a fantastic person and a great dad. I’m looking forward to catching up with him in person.
Mr Perrottet offered a classy concession speech on Saturday evening, noting Mr Minns would make a ‘fine premier of NSW’ as he stepped down as leader of his party.
He said Mr Minns would ‘lead with the same decency of the same integrity that he has led with so far.
‘Ultimately, I ask everybody across New South Wales, whatever your political persuasion, to get behind him.’
Mr Minns is only the fourth state Labor leader to win from Opposition since World War II – ending 12 years in the political wilderness for the ALP.
He’s also the first state Labor leader since 1995 to have won from Opposition when Labor was in power federally.
Speaking of the historic win, Mr Minns said he felt a ‘sense of relief’ wash over him when it became apparent he’d won.
‘Obviously for labor volunteers and supporters it’s been a long time in the wilderness but it’s also a deep sense of responsibility and there’s lots of challenges.’
He said he’d welcome scrutiny from the public and vowed to remain transparent and accessible.
‘We’ve got to be close to the people,’ he said.
‘One of the key reasons we won on Saturday is that there wasn’t some big bureaucratic buffer between the Labor party and the people of the state.’
Mr Minns is only the fourth state Labor leader to win from Opposition since World War II – ending 12 years in the political wilderness for the ALP
Meet Mr Minns: NSW’s new Premier
The 43-year-old father-of-three has historically voted conservatively within his left-leaning party and is considered a centrist.
His pragmatism and reputation within his party has earned him comparisons to Paul Keating, and over the years he’s butted heads with the unions, who on one occasion said he’d be better suited ‘having a crack at the leadership of the Liberal Party’.
Prior to taking over leadership of the Labor party unopposed in 2021, he had two failed attempts at the role in 2018 and 2019.
He was raised in Penshurst by a lawyer mother and school principal father, both of whom were passionate Labor voters, and himself joined the party age 18, eventually becoming president of Young Labor by 2004, aged 25. Paul Keating, Bob Carr and Anthony Albanese all led Young Labor in their day.
His win in NSW is just the final nail in the coffin for a Coalition that until recently ran much of the nation.
The Liberal party’s vote first collapsed in South Australia in March 2022, followed by the federal election in May of the same year.
Now, there is no Coalition government on mainland Australia. The Liberal party remains in Tasmania, where the next election is not scheduled until mid-2025.