Michael Daley has addressed NSW voters and pitched himself as the next premier in his first public comments since he was elected Labor leader.
Meanwhile, the Liberal MP accused of unleashing the scandal which claimed Luke Foley’s leadership has apologised to the reporter at the centre of the allegations.
Mr Daley outlined his priorities ahead of the March election following his promotion to the top position on Saturday afternoon, when he won 33 of 45 votes in a caucus meeting, after Mr Foley resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.
Mr Daley beat out contender Chris Minns, who claimed 12 votes, while Penny Sharpe was the only nominee for deputy leader and was picked to replace Mr Daley, who previously held the deputy position.
In a press conference following his victory, Mr Daley said his policy priorities would be reducing tolls on western Sydney roads, driving down energy bills through the growth of renewable energy, providing jobs to the suburbs and regions of NSW, and making Sydney more livable.
He also promised to fight the government’s “wasteful” investment in stadiums and divert funds to TAFE, schools and hospitals.
The opposition leader vowed to win the next state election.
“I am not here to save the furniture. We are here to win the 2019 election. And that is what we will do for the people who rely so heavily on us,” he said.
His comments follow Mr Foley’s resignation after ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper issued a statement alleging he put his hand through the back of her dress and groped her at a 2016 Christmas party.
Mr Foley has denied the allegation but said he won’t seek re-election to parliament.
Liberal minister David Elliott was heavily criticised, from inside and outside his own party, for using the scandal to score political points after he aired the allegation in parliament last month.
Mr Elliott said he was “deeply sorry for the hurt” his comments caused to Ms Raper.
“It was completely unintentional,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
“I have every intention of respecting Ms Raper’s wishes and letting her get on with her life.”
Mr Daley, who grew up on a dairy farm on the north coast, has also made a pitch to “forgotten” regional voters, saying he would deliver a fairer deal as they had been left behind by a Sydney-centric Liberal government.
The Labor leader said he was from the suburbs where he had seen the struggles ordinary people went through and where he had forged his admiration for working people.
“My first job as an 11 or 12-year-old was delivering newspapers in south Maroubra through the housing estates.”