Hey Liberals, how about a bit of opposition?
“Worn down, cut off and out of ideas.” That was Friday’s headline on the resignation of Liberal leader Isobel Redmond, but it pretty much sums up the pitiful state of the South Australian parliamentary Liberal team as a whole.
Now that Izzy has fallen on her sword, we can only hope this squabbling bunch of brats has a quick reality check, remembers that we pay their wages and finally understands that we expect them to play a role in the direction of South Australia.
I am so sick of hearing about leadership instability, factional brawling and petty personal bickering (bickering that apparently dates back to the 1970s in some cases and parental spats in others).
This isn’t Shakespeare, people, so start putting the South Australian public before personal ambition and factional loyalties – or please find a different job.
So what do we need from this rabble?
We need ideas: just one for starters; and then perhaps a couple more; and then maybe even an entire policy platform – sometime before March 2014 would be nice.
Is it any wonder Ms Redmond kept making a dill of herself over policy, when the Liberals fell into an ideas abyss shortly after the last election?
It’s unfair to suggest across-the-board laziness, because I know of MPs who attend up to 70 after-hours community meetings and public events every week.
But shadow spokespeople have had three years to establish where South Australia is failing in their particular portfolio areas. (The Normandy Landings, one of the biggest coordinated efforts in history, took only 18 months from planning to execution – that’s half the time it’s taken for the state Liberals to do bugger all.)
South Australians need an opposition with conviction.
OK – so you’re considering cutting public servant numbers to save us from bankruptcy.
Well, prosecute the argument, instead of backtracking every time a journalist asks a difficult question or Premier Jay Weatherill deflects an idea with his perfectly-executed condescension.
Just tell us what you stand for!
If you’re the party for business, tell us how you plan to stop the plague of TV news stories about South Australian companies going to the wall.
Tell us how you’re going to ensure all those cranes towering over Adelaide remain in the skyline when publicly-funded projects come to an end – and how you’re planning to give smaller construction companies a piece of the action as well as the handful of big players.
It’s not like the Liberals even need to reinvent the policy wheel – just steal the speech notes from any business chief and you’ll see their main concerns are high tax rates and the uncompetitive nature of doing business in South Australia.
Finally, we need the opposition to actually, occasionally, oppose.
Opposition education spokesman David Pisoni always has a good crack, and the new leader-in-wanting Stephen Marshall has crafted a strong media persona, but others on the team make Marcel Marceau look like positively verbose.
Independent and Greens MPs command more airspace most nights on the news these days and it’s not surprising given they’ve usually got more to say that’s fresh and engaging.
On Friday, declaring his desire to lead the Liberals to the next state election in the wake of Ms Redmond’s shock resignation, Mr Marshall said he wouldn’t be releasing any policies until after tomorrow’s leadership ballot but hoped to launch a health policy “sooner rather than later”.
We’ve been waiting three years for a policy, Mr Marshall, so I suppose another weekend won’t hurt.
Despite years of leadership instability and the yawning ideas chasm, the polls still put the South Australian Liberals ahead of Labor.
Just imagine how the polls might look if they start working for us instead of warring with each other.
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