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The small rule that could make a huge difference to the NSW election

Sydney Morning Herald 01 Jan 2023

Jacqui Scruby says she comes to her run as a teal candidate for Pittwater in this year’s state election with the benefit of hindsight: in a way, she has won this campaign before.

The former environmental lawyer, who announced she would contest retiring long-time Liberal MP Rob Stokes’ former seat last month, was a campaign manager for federal MP for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps.


“There is a benefit of hindsight, knowing that we’ve got a community that is mobilised and the issues they care about,” she said. “Between the federal and state campaign I think it will be exactly the same on the ground.”

However, she admits “the amplification of what is going on, on the ground, may not be as loud”.

Each of the teal campaigns set to challenge key Liberal-held seats with the financial backing of Climate 200 at next year’s state election have been borne of communities formed by May’s federal victories.

North Sydney’s Independent, the community group that spurred Kylea Tink to victory in North Sydney earlier this year, will support candidates in the Lane Cove and North Shore electorates, while former volunteers for Scamps’ and Warringah MP Zali Steggall’s respective campaigns are playing key roles in the teal groups taking on the safe northern beaches seats of Manly, Wakehurst and Pittwater.

However, the state election’s considerably smaller spending cap means campaigns have been forced to re-evaluate their approach.

“The thing that is the same is the community is engaged, but the biggest difference is the donation caps,” Scruby said of switching from a federal to a state campaign.

Each candidate has a spending cap of $198,700. So-called third-party campaigners – such as the local climate-focused community groups backing teal candidates – have $644,300, but their expenditure on an individual electorate is limited to $26,700, compared to $66,400 for a party.

During the federal campaign, Wentworth teal MP Allegra Spender spent $2.1 million on her winning campaign, plastering Sydney’s eastern suburbs in advertisements, while Tink’s similarly signage-heavy campaign cost almost $1.4 million and Scamps’ $1.2 million.

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