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Minns baulks on nurses' pay in NSW leaders debate

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has dodged guaranteeing larger pay rises for teachers, police and nurses while sparring with Premier Dominic Perrottet over NIMBYs, children's futures and groceries.

With rising living costs dominating the state's election campaign, Mr Minns was asked repeatedly during a televised election debate on Wednesday about his pledge to scrap a public sector wages cap for frontline workers.

But he stopped short of promising increases above the coalition's limit of three-per-cent per year plus productivity gains if Labor wins on March 25.

"If we sit down and we've got strict economic principles in place, then we're happy to negotiate in relation to that," Mr Minns said.

"But it will be with budget savings and productivity gains."

Mr Perrottet said that stance was no different to the status quo as he reassured striking nurses they were getting a good pay rise.

"At three per cent, that's twice the pay increase as public servants have in Victoria," he told the Nine Network broadcast.

Both leaders knocked back calls to upgrade rugby league stadiums used by the NRL's Wests Tigers, Manly and Cronulla and, as with earlier debates, tossed grenades at each other's budget "black holes".

Mr Minns said the government's proposed Metro rail lines were an unfunded liability and likely to be privatised under the coalition.

However Mr Perrottet said that wouldn't happen because privatisation of assets wasn't needed in the next term of government.

The premier also revealed more about the eligibility criteria for Kids Future Fund announced four days ago.

While 30 per cent of the state's population were born overseas, children whose parents were NSW residents but not citizens would be excluded, as would children born in NSW to interstate residents.

A baby born in Queensland who moved to NSW at three months would also be excluded.

"This is about children and parents from NSW," Mr Perrottet said.

Both leaders were taken to task about the housing crisis that has left 57,000 on the waiting list for public and social housing and a record-low rental vacancy rate.

Mr Minns conceded he couldn't fix the crisis overnight, rejected a suggestion he supported NIMBYs (not in my backyard activists) in his electorate and accepted his seat of Kogarah needed to take "its fair share" of population growth like the rest of metropolitan Sydney.

Claims the city's high-rise, affluent north shore couldn't take more people was "like the mayor of New York City saying no more homes in Manhattan".

"You haven't put the population where the transport is," he told the premier.

Mr Perrottet said homes needed to be built in a way that kept with the character of communities to "get the balance right".

Growth would "naturally be" around new suburbs in Greater Western Sydney including those near the new airport at Badgerys Creek, he said, pointing to the coalition's desire to build four Metro lines in the west.

"We want to work with councils to make sure they get their development applications approved fast," he said.

"You can't just build homes in areas without the schools, the hospitals and the public transport."

On women candidates, Mr Perrottet conceded the Liberals could pick more but "people vote on policy".

On Labor's reluctance for mandatory cashless gaming without a trial, Mr Minns said it was because only Norway had mandated it.

Pressed on their own family budgets, the premier said paying grocery bills for seven children was challenging while Mr Minns deflected, saying many more families were doing it worse than the two leaders' broods.

Mr Perrottet "absolutely" guaranteed his supply chain commissioner would reduce supermarket bills but declined to put a figure on it.

It left commentators split on who won the hour-long scrap, in keeping with an election campaign steamrolling towards a hung parliament.