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In addition to their legal obliga- tion to vote to-day, State electors have a duty to give a considered judgment on the issues and as be- tween the candidates in the cam- paign which closed last night. It is no excuse for casualness in this matter to say, as many people do, that State politics are not important in war-time. Real power may have passed temporarily to the Common- wealth, but the character of State Parliaments and the policies of State Governments remain of the deepest concern to the nation. What is done or left undone in the State sphere, even in time of war. not only affects the community directly con- cerned but has strong reactions in the Federal field. And the line taken by State voters, in between Federal elections, is carefully noted at Canberra, where policy is in- fluenced accordingly. Politically, New South Wales is the key State of the Commonwealth, and to-dav's returns will be watched throughout Australia for signs of the confirma- tion or otherwise of that swing against the Labour Patty lately manifested in Queensland and South Australia-a swing which, if it should be emphasised here, will also be taken as an unfavourable omen for the referendum on Federal powers.
From London Mr. Curtin asks the people of New South Wales "to vote Labour again as they did last August." Mr. McKell will be well content if they give him only half as handsome a majority as he re- ceived three years ago. If he gets anything more than that it will be due less to the Government's merits than to the weaknesses of the Opposition. In May, 1941, Mr. McKell faced the electors with a
party newly unified, after years of bitter divisions, under his own moderate and conciliatory leader- ship. A change of Government was overdue, and Labour swept into office. To-day the pendulum has not had time to swing very far in the contrary direction, nor are Lab- our's opponents in any shape to hasten this normal process. They are divided as the Labouij Party it- self was before Mr. McKell took over. The election caught the Democratic Party incompletely or- ganised, while the Liberal-Demo- crats' campaigning has been directed as much against the group with which they failed to affiliate as against the Ministerialists. Nothing could be more gratifying or bene- ficial to Labour than this persisting rivalry. Mr. Weaver, who has waged a most vigorous fight, stresses in his pre-polling message the potential ability of his own and the Country Party candidates to provide a Min- istry. But here again the loose- ness of the association between the main non-Labour groups must tell in favour of the Government.
Nevertheless, it is desirable on all counts that there should be a shift- ing of political strength to the Oppo- sition. The Government has too large a majority for its own good or for the health of the State. Only the vigilance of the Legislative Council prevented in the late Parlia- ment the abuse of that majority for unscrupulously partisan ends. Mr. McKell wants to abolish the Coun- cil-or so he says. Whether he really wants to or not, he will be forced to make the attempt. Do the electors, with memories of what happened during the ruinous Lang regime, wish to see a single-Cham- ber Parliament in New South Wales? Do they even desire indirectly to encourage Labour in that design, or to have the party gain unrestricted control of both Houses? If not, they will consider how their votes can be most effectively cast to-day to check Labour's pretensions and re-establish a numerous, coherent, and vigilant Opposition. That the Government's record in office has been in many respects creditable and constructive, no fair critic would deny. The Premier, however, is much too complacent about it; and many voters will remember what ho would have them forget-that the Ministry has shown inexcusable timidity towards industrial dis- orders and has neglected social re- forms well within the province and duty of a progressive State Admin- istration even in war-time. His Government, despite all that can b» said in its favour, is much in need of the correction and spur which . only a critical electorate can apply.