State elections: It’s not over until the fat lady swings
The South Australian election is not over just yet.
Some 20% of votes are yet to be counted and there are three Labor seats which are too close to call. Bright will most probably be Liberal by the end of the week and Hartley and Newland are still in play. If all three come to the Liberal Party then Labor will only have 22 seats and will need to do a deal with independents to survive.
We should consider the facts on Saturday night’s result. There was an eight percent state wide swing to the Liberal Party resulting in approximately 52% of the state wide two party preferred. There will be at least five new members of the Liberal team, an increase of a third to the Parliamentary team. Better still the new members including Dan Van Holst Pellekann, Steven Marshall, John Gardner, Tim Whetstone and Rachel Sanderson have genuine talent and will add some real fire power.
On the other hand Labor lost two cabinet ministers and many others had 10 to 15 percent swings against them. At the next election they will have some six to eight seats under five percent.
Certainly a majority of South Australian voters want a change of government and it may yet be delivered. South Australians like Isobel Redmond’s straight talk and her plans for water and health. She ran a very positive campaign about the future whereas Labor tried every negative tactic to try and hold onto the past.
Today the level of desperation in the Labor campaign has been revealed in its full glory. The shameless con of having Labor booth workers pretend to be Family First workers with a false and misleading how to vote card is nothing short of a disgrace. As David Nason states in The Australian today “democracy was seriously diminished by this low exercise and those who behind it, should feel ashamed”. But yet Michael Brown the SA Labor State Secretary was happily accepting it as an authorised Labor tactic this morning on Adelaide radio.
This type of campaigning has no place in our democracy. Kevin Rudd should rule out using this tactic at the next Federal election and we should consider legislative change to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. People were duped and misled in an authorised attempt to change the course of an election.
In this regard it was interesting reading the Bruce Hawker’s analysis on The Punch this morning. In reading Bruce’s analysis you should remember he was thanked by Mike Rann at least three times on Saturday night for running the Labor campaign in South Australia. So he has an insight no doubt but it is completely biased.
Bruce spins the Labor line in a typically high quality fashion however the mood in the community is impossible to ignore. The style of governing through spin and style rather than policy and substance is turning voters off and unless Kevin Rudd realises this he will face the same level of angst as Mike Rann did on Saturday.
Either way it is the end of the Rann era and there will be federal ramifications to this end. Rann’s ungracious spray on Saturday night revealed a man who knows he is out of time. But even I was surprised how quickly the factional deal that has survived in South Australian for 16 years fell apart. Within hours of the booths closing on Saturday, the left’s Jay Weatherill challenged the right’s Kevin Foley for the Deputyship of the Party and in doing so made not so subtle comments about the bullying style that is a hallmark of the senior leadership of the Labor Party.
This is the beginning of what will be a bloodbath in the State Labor Party as the right seek to reassert their dominance over the left and vice versa. The challenges of water, health and the economy will be put to one side while the factions fight out who will become the next Labor Party leader.
Unfortunately for South Australians if Labor does sneak over the line, the famous Mungo MacCallum expression on politics in Australia will be proved correct again - Liberal governments get thrown out one election early and Labor governments get one election too many.
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