South Australia in limbo, governed by an also-Rann
South Australia has not so much two premiers now but none.
The outgoing Mike Rann has played his assassins off a break revealing them to be weak, disorganised, and without the class necessary to lead.
Worse, the sheer hollowness of the personnel change at the top has been exposed for what it is - merely a marketing ploy to repackage a tired government. Nothing in the way of substantial vision or a different approach has been put forward.
By nominating October 20 as the hand-over date, Mr Rann has effectively told Jay Weatherill that the premiership is in the mail. And we’re not talking airmail express.
In a dismal outcome for voters, the pair’s press conference yesterday showed the current leader wounded from the attack but still strong enough to call the shots.
As for the pretender, that is exactly how he came across. Gormless in victory, unable or unwilling to exercise his claim on authority.
The real loser however is the state which has been left in a political limbo and administratively rudderless.
Formerly a political colossus, a fact driven home strongly yesterday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Mr Rann has reluctantly acknowledged his time is up.
But he has deftly maintained control of both the method of his departure and the timing.
In doing so he has towelled up the amateurs coming after him skilfully maintaining the initiative even under attack. His successor may be called Weatherill but politically he and his backers seem to lack the where-with-all.
The result for the state is a Clayton’s premiership where the outgoing leader has been stripped of the authority to govern actively while the incoming leader lacks the courage of his convictions to, as Paul Keating famously once said, ``take it’‘.
This is a danger period for SA. All the signs are that it is now lumbered with a government in terminal decline.
For a state vulnerable to setbacks and shocks due to its small population and delicately poised economy, there is no room for messing about while the ALP apportions the spoils of power.
The worrying parallel is the disastrous Nathan Rees premiership in NSW (after Morris Iemma and before Kristina Keneally) who like Mr Weatherill was a left-faction member parachuted in by the majority Right faction. Rees turned out to be little more than a Trojan Horse torn down once his factional opponents turned backers turned again.
The dominant Right will have already extracted plenty in exchange for its backing of Mr Weatherill including preselection deals and cabinet posts. On that you can be assured.
But for Mr Weatherill the real problem is that like Rees, he is beholden to a Caucus and Cabinet in which he lacks the factional numbers.
His authority deficit may well be structural. The hapless voters should be alarmed about that but then, they have no say in these matters.
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