'Come see the homeless': Beach visit plea for Perrottet
On a day of sandbagging affluent Liberal strongholds in Sydney's Northern Beaches, Premier Dominic Perrottet has been confronted with the harsh reality of the state's ever-growing housing crisis.
The premier used the beachside visit to urge voters to reject independent candidates, several of whom are challenging for the blue-ribbon coalition seats.
But he couldn't escape questions about public and social housing during a street walk in Dee Why on the scorching day.
Sean Pearce, a local and social housing applicant, approached Mr Perrottet outside an ice-cream shop, calling on the premier to pay a night visit to see the scores of homeless people in the area, including some camping in the beach's dunes.
Social housing wait times for studio and one-bed apartments in the area are five to 10 years.
Mr Perrottet promised that Environment Minister and Manly MP James Griffin, who joined the premier for the beach tour, would come down to see the problem first-hand.
Mr Pearce later told AAP he wished the politicians had chosen a time to visit other than during the day on the hottest day of the year.
"I'd love to see him come past at 11pm on a Tuesday night when the food bus is here and the queue is so long that people miss out," he said.
"I just wish they'd pick a better day ... who is coming out of an ice-cream shop looking sad?"
Mr Perrottet earlier said he wasn't taking any vote for granted as he asked voters to reject independent challengers.
Mr Griffin is facing strong competition for his seat from Climate 200-funded teal independent Joeline Hackman, who is looking to replicate the local success of federal MP Zali Stegall at the state level.
"It's not a time to vote independent, it's time to vote for the Liberals and Nationals," Mr Perrottet said.
The clock is ticking with candidate nominations closing at midday on Wednesday, with the Liberal Party yet to finalise challengers in more than fifteen seats.
This includes the south coast electorate of Kiama, where former Liberal MP Gareth Ward is running as an independent.
Mr Ward was removed from the Liberal Party and suspended from parliament after being charged with sexual and indecent assault. He denies any wrongdoing and the case remains before the courts.
The premier insisted the Liberal Party would re-take the seat at the March 25 poll, despite not yet having a candidate.
Mr Perrottet also said he would support a fresh motion to suspend Mr Ward until the MP's legal matters were resolved.
Labor leader Chris Minns challenged the premier to go further by not preferencing his former colleague on how-to-vote cards or doing deals with him in the event of a hung parliament.
"What's right? Your original position when you suspended him from parliament, or the political position now that you may need his vote?" he said.
However, the government scored an integrity win as the Independent Commission Against Corruption cleared John Barilaro and government officials of any corrupt conduct in the appointment of the former deputy premier to a plum overseas trade role.
Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean also flagged potential intervention to delay the planned closure of Eraring, Australia's largest coal power station, due to forecast energy shortfalls in NSW over the next decade.
The Lake Macquarie plant, owned by Origin Energy, is due to wind up operations by 2025.
"We're not ruling things in or out," Mr Kean told The Australian.
But the premier refused to back Mr Kean's position, instead referring to the government's 20-year energy road map, which tracks a path to future reliance on renewable energy.