SA election: Why Mike Rann’s time is up
Jamie Briggs is the federal Liberal member for the South Australian seat of Mayo.
In his book, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, the exiled Czech novelist Milan Kundera, explains how to rewrite a states history:
“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was.”
Mike Rann must own a dog eared version of this book if his Punch interview is anything to go by.
The claims Mike Rann made in his interview with David Penberthy on the Punch on Monday can only be taken seriously if you believe that Mike Rann was beamed down from another universe at the start of 2002.
Mike Rann claims in this interview that the reason South Australians should be falling over themselves to re-elect him is because he singularly dragged the State from the doldrums and delivered an age of prosperity.
Really? Let us just check some of the claims against the facts.
The South Australian Government was almost bankrupt in 1993 thanks to a Labor Government of which Mike Rann was one of the most senior ministers. When Dean Brown was elected Premier the task that faced the new government was monumental. In the first weeks Dean Brown instituted an enquiry into the state of the South Australian budget and the results were ugly.
It meant the new government had to slash services, close schools and massively reduce the number of public servants. It also had to try to reinvigorate private investment in the State. This was all done in the face of absolute opposition from a Mike Rann led Labor Party.
There has rarely been a more negative opposition in Australia’s history than the Rann led Labor Party. You would have thought the shame of nearly sending a state broke, destroying the opportunities of thousands of young South Australians would have been shame enough to ensure that Labor felt obliged to help clean up the mess. No way, not under Mike Rann who was always thinking about politics.
Mike Rann claims in his interview on the Punch that one of his Government’s great economic achievements was the reinstatement of the Triple A credit rating. Really?
This is of course the rating that was lost when the State was on the verge of bankruptcy in the early nineties and regained because the budget was fixed by the Liberal Government. It was regained within months of Rann coming to office and was because the Liberal Party in Government had restored the State’s finances. It had made the very tough decisions and cut spending and it had made the toughest decision of all and sold the electricity assets.
Mike Rann campaigned day in and day out against the ETSA sale. He took every opportunity to make political advantage but now he takes credit for the budgetary results.
Audacious. Oppose the work and then take the credit.
The second significant change to the State’s financial arrangements occurred when the Federal Liberal Government introduced a goods and services tax. The GST ensured that the States for the first time had a growth tax to fund the delivery of services. John Howard and Peter Costello decided to hand the proceeds of the tax over to the States giving them a revenue stream like never before.
What did Mike Rann do? He played politics and opposed it every step of the way. Unsurprisingly however, when Mike Rann became Premier he didn’t demand the GST be wound back in fact he has happily banked the cheques ever since.
I don’t know what Mike Rann gets up to at night but clearly he spends many hours dreaming up economic fairy tales to try and fool the South Australian public to get re-elected.
The truth is that South Australia has underperformed in comparison to other states in the Rann years. While the national economy has basked in the glow from our northern neighbours, South Australia has been mainly fine with some cloudy patches.
So much for the Rann hyped mining boom, we have had an exploration boom.
While Western Australia and Queensland have enjoyed the benefits of the mining boom, South Australians have benefited from a Rann announcements boom. One creates jobs and wealth the other creates headlines and fluff.
The claims by Mike Rann in the Penberthy interview highlight the reason he should lose his job this weekend. All spin, no substance. All talk, no delivery.
If you can’t trust Mike Rann to tell the truth about the economy how can you trust him to run it?
Mike Rann’s time is up.
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