Liberal MP Apologises After Rival's Wife Left In 'Tears' By His Volunteers
"Respect is needed", a Liberal candidate admitted, after a controversial incident where his volunteers surrounded his Labor rival's wife on the campaign trail.
Victor Dominello, the sitting Liberal member for the NSW state seat of Ryde, made unwanted headlines this weekend as a photo of his staff standing around Karyn Laxale -- the wife of Labor's candidate, Ryde City mayor Jerome Laxale -- blew up on social media.
One particular photo showing her surrounded by placard-brandishing young men, posted by NSW Labor deputy leader Penny Sharpe, was shared hundreds of times on Twitter on Sunday.
The photo was taken as Ryde candidates attended a Korean cultural festival in Eastwood, north Sydney, on Saturday. Ms Laxale was with her three young children.
She claimed to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that staff working for Dominello "were shouting and they had this pack mentality", and alleged one of them thrust a Liberal placard into frame as she was being photographed with some young children.
"As soon as this happened I got home and burst into tears," Ms Laxale claimed to the SMH.
South Australian Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis called the Liberal campaigners "thugs".
Other footage of the event, posted on Facebook, showed multiple placards and supporters of both Labor and Liberal parties had attended the Korean event.
Dominello was reportedly not at the event, but on Sunday morning he tweeted an apology for the actions of those on his team.
Dominello had levelled accusations of his own in recent days, claiming Labor was playing "dirty politics" with a letter that had been sent out to some local voters.
In social media posts, the current Ryde MP claimed "fake" letters had gone out to residents, but were actually material distributed by Labor.
The controversy in north Sydney simmered as both Labor and Liberal both officially launched their election campaigns on Sunday, ahead of the March 23 polling day.
Both parties targeted education in their campaign launches in Sydney's west on the same day that polling suggests the ALP has edged slightly ahead in the election race.
In a speech telling voters NSW deserved to' have it all', Premier Gladys Berejiklian promised almost $1 billion extra in school funding and another $2 billion to upgrade two hospitals.
Labor leader Michael Daley promised to fully fund public schools with a $2.7 billion education pledge to deliver 100 per cent of the standard level of funding for every student by the end of the Gonski agreement in 2027.
"It means every child will be given a fair chance which is being denied by the Liberals and Nationals government," he told party faithful in Revesby.
While Daley zeroed in on the Liberals' policy to demolish and rebuild Allianz Stadium, Berejiklian warned voters against returning Labor to government, which she said would jeopardise a record $90 billion infrastructure spend.
She said she wouldn't ask NSW to choose between schools, hospitals and stadiums.
"The hard work we've done means that today, NSW can have it all," she said.
Berejiklian's party has slipped a point behind Labor, according to polling commissioned by the Sun Herald.
The polling suggests Labor leads the Liberals 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis, while Daley leads Berejiklian 53-47 as preferred premier.
Early voting opens in NSW on Monday, according to the electoral commission, which will also begin distributing postal ballot papers.