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There's No "I" in "team", and no "You" in Labor

Richard Tonkin is a regular Webdiarist from the fair town of Adelaide. here is his take on tomorrow's South Australian election. If anyone wants to send us an article on the Tasmanian state politics today or tomorrow it would be appreciated, otherwise feel free to use this thread to comment on the Tassie election as well.

by Richard Tonkin 

With St Patrick's Day falling on the eve of the South Australian election, I'm having a think before I go for a drink, and I'm thinking that this election campaign has turned into the worst kind of Irish joke.

The "bread and circuses" environment created by the combination of the Festival of Arts, the Fringe, WOMAD, the Adelaide Cup (moved for the first time into this month)  have contributed to a city-wide mild sense of euphoria that has dulled the population to the action, or lack thereof, in SA's political arena.

Hell, the Liberals only started advertising on the telly this week.  Did they believe that blitzing the Sunday night movies and The Simpsons was going to reverse the effect  of Labor's incessant  media campaign? The media preview of the ad even misspelled Labour with a "U". Do they really want to win?

The South Australian Democrats are back in 1972, when the DLP campaign running  with the slogan "Get Mac back and make 'em honest" resulted in the demise of the party.  Today we see posters of leader Sandra Kanck emblazed with the slogan "Still Keeping The Bastards Honest"  This isn't going to influence the local political psyche into a parliamentary overthrow.  Do they really want to win?

Back to Labor.  Premier Rann's brilliant use of the Government Purse has given him a budget far beyond those of other parties.  By calling the election on the day before the deadline he was able to utilise the public coffers through pro-Government ads.  When you consider that the Rober Gerard fiasco left the Libs without their usual propoganda bankroller, he's had a huge advantage. The Democrats, with a handful of seated politicians are battling to be heard.  The Greens,with not one seated member. don't seem to have two five cent pieces to rub together.

All the non-Government parties would have done well to appoint independant MLC Nick Xenophon as a media advisor.  He's filmed puppets in front bars, driven toy cars, stood in front of Parliament House talking to anyone passing by, and put himself in the public eye.  Having entered SA politics on the now-obsolete single-issue platform of "No Pokies'  he's tipped to do something that one of his kind rarely achieves- a second eight-year spot in the Upper House.

Democrat MLC Kate Reyolds had a go, using cardboard cut-outs in a visual portrayal of what she believed the Legislative Council could become.  It was shown on television, but followed by vision of the stunt she'd copied, carried out by Opposition Leader Mike Rann a while back. As a last media appearance before polling day, it's not a good one.

Funnily enough, Family First's media management has been pretty effective, with claims that the major parties were copying their policies penetrating the daily pages of festivities much more effectively than the Greens' ploy of claiming that THEY are the party that Jesus would have voted for. 

 In the meantime SA's uranium mine has been tripled in size, as has the warship precinct, and Halliburton's tactical approach to consulation and tendering (along with Rann-appointed board positions) gives them a stranglehold on local employment.  Nobody knows who's going to fill the jobs being created (population expansion? and a visit to a hospital emergency room takes most people many hours.

 In the middle of this I'm beginning to question the possible motive for a planned Liberal election failure.  The use of Family First to wipe out the minor parties and become a feasible coalition partner in 2010, perhaps? The upcoming increase in global war theatres that the Bush administration hopes to use to control a century of "democracy?" is another possibilty... who'd want to be seen "holding the reins" when that particular program kicks in?  The Federal assistants of Australia's support of Bush are retiring at a rate of knots, and I could imagine emulation of this tactic at state level would be a desirable approach.

Perhaps, and this I believe as most likely, a combination of the two above ideas could make a bloody good reason to sit on the sidelines. However here could be something about to happen that we, and the Libs, don't want to know about. This possibility is also something to consider.

If you think I'm going to have a hangover on Saturday, it's nothing like the one that South Australia will have on Monday. You know the kind where you wake up thinking "Um, I probably shouldn't have done what I did" ?

Anyhow, I'll see you later, after the "Rannslide".

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The evil of fascism.

With elections pending in both Queensland and N.S.W. the media is ramping up it's attacks on the Labor parties in those states while continuing to do the same to Federal Labor. We should no longer be under the illusion of the rights of State governments after the number of times Howard has overridden them.  The disgraceful "White Coolie" I.R. legislation has only been thwarted by the States maintaining some control of awards being under State jurisdiction.  Does anyone really doubt what the Liberals and Nationals would do IF they were elected?  The danger here is not only the possibility that the people of each State and Territory would lose their State Awards but that they would lose their independence altogether.  Beware of the media hype - it is not in the people's best interests - they are the Corporations after all. 

Thinking like Americans

Syd Drate and Malcolm B Duncan, would you consider the introduction of laws preventing ministers and premiers from holding corporate consultancy positions for 12 months after their "failure in politics”? Elimination (or at least retardation) of this part of the food-chain might change how some decisions are made.

Speaking of political altruism, one of my least favourite ex-premiers, having privatised our water and electricity and brought the globals into Adelaide, is now telling us that we need to change our ways. He says that Americans live to work while Australians work to live and has addressed Adelaide business (who put all their support behind Olsen's former opposition) with such choice phrases as

"In the U.S. you get a pat on the back ... in Australia someone says who did you rip-off to make that money?"

"If you drive a Mercedes in the USA you're a success - in Australia you're a wanker.

"In the USA if you are successful, you flaunt it, in Australia we are a little more self-effacing."

Olsen seems to thinks that our attitudes need changing.

In his capacity of infrastructure minister, Olsen allowed a post-deadline tender for the water supply to be won by a Halliburton-led consortium. He is also Mr Downer's newest appointee as Consul-General to New York , where he'll reside in the same building as former Senator for SA and Defence Minister (now our UN ambassador) Robert Hill, who has also made significant contribution to SA life. It's a hard life as Liberal resigning under Howard. Admittedly, Olsen resigned after being accused of lying to an inquiry over his misappropriation of public funds to look after Motorola. Whether he would have done so if the inquiry's results weren't handed down on the eve of a federal election (a concept that will become a political factor when Cole discusses Downer in his findings) is debatable.

Olsen's immediate (Lib) successor, and representative for the seat surrounding Victor Harbour (discussed in this post), Dean Brown, has just resigned (before the election) from political life, and now Rob Kerin is on the ex-list, though still representing his constituency, for now. No crystal balls are required to forecast a rosy private business future for these two if, like Olsen, they learn to "think like Americans".... if they haven't already.

a mistake surely Syd !

"All Howard has to do at the next election is to point out how incompetent Labor is when it comes to the economy.". I distinctly heard the Prime Minister claiming it was because of his policies that caused the victory when Labor won the State elections last weekend.

You are correct when you say Labor is on the nose in NSW but sadly the Opposition with Peter Debnam – who should be doing far better – is unlikely to move electors. Howard will have trouble pointing to the economy unless he wants to highlight the federal government's role. The troubles in NSW are more selfish problems like people unwilling to pay tolls on roads. The state economy is actually very good. It's Victoria where the next federal election will be lost by the PM, or more correctly Peter Costello. Howard’s going out while he's on top.

No mistake

No mistake, Michael, the NSW state economy is not good. They have gone from surplus to deficit because of typical Labor incompetence. It has nothing to do with the road tolls, they were in deficit before the Cross City tunnel opened and people are not using the tunnel because it is too expensive. Now because of Labor's incompetence in all matters commercial, it looks as though the tunnel contract is going to cost the state millions. It does not seem to make any difference how much money Labor gets from the GST – they just keep finding ways to waste it. You miss the whole point. Debnam does not want government: as long as Labor is in power in the States the Libs will be in control federally.

Howard will still be there for the next election to ensure a victory, and then hand over to Costello. Not that it would make a difference – a drover’s dog could beat Labor. As Combet said today, unless Labor lifts its game on IR there is going to a stoush, and with Beazley and Co's record in parliament there is going to be a stoush. It is not going to be pretty as Labor and the unions self destruct. It is going to be an interesting week.

National state tactics?

Syd Drate: " By the time the NSW State election is over - and Labor will win because there is no opposition..."

Same as in SA... media commentators have been amazed at the lack of issue-tackling by the Liberals here... and many of us have felt that Liberal simply did not want to win this election. Apart from the local issues you raise, is there further reason why, in your view, the party doesn't want to hold the reins? I don't know if I'm being over-paranoid in smelling something very fishy, but the SA Libs' line of "voters being in for a shock" rang all my warning bells, and I'm wondering if this extrapolates state by state

State tactics

Richard Tonkin,

 I have long held the view that as long as Labor holds the States the Libs will win federally. In NSW Labor is so incompetent with everything they touch, Transport, Health and Education. When the people go to the polls in NSW they remember the long hospital waiting lists, the trains running late day after day, and the ferries when they are running usually manage to crash into other boats or some wharf somewhere.

The latter is usually covered up by their mates in the unions. They cave in to everything the Teachers Federation want, because the Federation do not want the public to look too closely at the standard of teaching in Public schools. It just reinforces the view the public have that Labor can not be trusted to run the country. It is not surprising that this state of affairs exists as all the top governement position are held by "union hacks", who could not find their way to their offices if they were not picked up in oficial cars.

Last week I spent 3 days in St.Vincents Private Hospital, and one of the sisters was telling me that this week they are shutting down 65 beds. I'll bet Labor keeps this out of the papers this week.

I will be urging all my friends to vote Labor when the time comes, no sense in taking the risk that Labor will win at the Federal level.

 

 

History Lesson

Just a bit of a reminder, Syd Drate: the person who had the opportunity to break the power of the NSW Teachers' Federation and botched it in spades was a coalition Minister, Terry Metherill. Not only did he botch that but he managed (with the willing complicity of that dope Moore and Greiner) to destroy what was the least worst government NSW had had since the War.

 While you are at it, would you mind doing me a small personal favour? Could you ask all your friends to vote against my Party?

Election

Malcolm, I have spoken to some of my friends and they do not know which is your party.

I forgot about Greiner. I was overseas at the time but I looked it all up this weekend and you are right. Still, Greiner seems to have done alright out of it all. Funny that, how leaders of all partyies seem to do well after they have failed at politics. How do they amass the millions on their parliamentary salaries?

Political correctness

Well of course I was bloody right. I don't indulge in the habit of being wrong. May your friends remain in blissful ignorance.

When you never have to pay for a meal, when you are on a package which, cashed-out, would amount to something over $3M a year, when you have direct access to everybody, it isn't hard to make a whack.

Look at the Carr cretin: a third-rate journalist on a pension for life and now, at 60ish, earning more a year than most people will see in a lifetime with no children to support, a rich "wife" and all the travel perks of a retired Premier. Not really hard, is it?

Still time to win

You write off the Labor Party too soon Syd Drate. While power at the federal level is where it's at, consistently winning every State election shows the Labor Party has an excellent grass root's organisation that can be of enormous value at the next federal election.

This can make an difference. From producing foot soldiers to handing out voting pamphlets to raising campaign funds as opposed to demoralised State Coalition party workers.

Of course it means nought if Beazley doesn't come up with the goods but it's an advantage that shouldn't be ignored.

It's Time

Michael de Angelos, the NSW Labor Party is going to hand the election to Howard, they are so on the nose it is not funny. By the time the NSW State election is over - and Labor will win because there is no opposition - the state will be almost bankrupt from the promises Labor will make. I have just heard through a contact that they have just done a deal with Clubs NSW regarding tax. This is going to make one hell of a hole in the budget. On top of all this we have the tunnel fiascos which is going to cost the state millions.

All Howard has to do at the next election is to point out how incompetant Labor is when it comes to the economy. Of course the unions in one last desperate effort are going to cause chaos with strikes and stop work meetings, it happened this week with the ferrys, and a train breakdown.

On top of all this everybody knows that Beazley will not come up with goods, and there is nobody of substance to take his place. They will probably come up with Gillard, which will be the greatest mistake ever.

Time and a-half

As one of only three declared candidates of whom I am aware for the 2007 NSW State Election, I think I might just put my oar in here. Notwithstanding that I have given the Premier a cardigan so he could match the sartorial elegance of his predecessor, Barrie Unsworth, the lad just can't lose. Despite Anthony Green's article in today's Sydney Morning Herald, the true figures are that the NSW Government has to lose 19 seats to lose Government. That is as at today. There is a reasonable prospect that the Nationals will lose another two seats to strong independents (if they stand). Were that to happen, the Government would have to lose 23 seats to be defeated outright. There has never been a swing like that anywhere in Australia (and overseas comparisons do not count because they do not have our system of compulsory voting).

It matters not whether there is an Opposition in NSW, the current Government simply cannot lose. The possibility exists that it may be forced into minority government again but that is the absolute worst case scenario. For those of you who are not locals, you have to understand that the cross-benchers in our Lower House are predominantly disaffected Nationals who stood as independents because they failed to win pre-selection. They were vilified when they did so and they have been even more roundly vilified since they won. I can see no sympathy there for the coalition.

It is an offence in NSW to wager on election results. Relying on the premise that this website is hosted outside NSW, I'll bet any Webdiarist a $2 Lottery ticket on the nose for the current NSW Government to be returned (albeit with a considerably reduced majority).

For those of you who would care to stump up, just tell me the seats you think the coalition will win. Name them.

Bikini A-Toll

Actually this is a sort of epilogue or postscript to the SA election, concerning one of the final peices to fall into place in the wake.  As expected, the Libs have moved to replace their leader but in this case with astoundingly, more of the same just rejected. 

I mentioned last week that Christian Kerr in the local Messenger newspaper expressed concern at the performance of deputy leader Iain Evans. Evans, a self- preoccupied and inward-looking looking conservative with the ominous look of a country squire transgressed by poachers, is the newly-invested  leader of the Libs.

Meanwhile, the somewhat more personable and potentially more intellectually-flexible Vicki Chapman (if given the incentive?) gets the ceremonial dead end deputies prize . What a "marriage"!

Straight out of the nineteenth century, judging by the patriarchal glare the face of Evans as he watched the captive Chapman like a cat watching a mouse on the teev the other night? This is as per the will of the dominant conservative faction, all of which suggests a sort of denial ridden retreat back into the laager.

Such a refusal to be accountable and "step up" is of course absolutely familiar to followers of federal Labor, who  watched a similar retreat from contestation into defeatism.

Both groupings cling to the spoils of defeat, responding to the electorate in a negative manner as they imagine the public forced to accept them on their own narrow terms, dictated by their own narrow interests. Better to humbly seek to engage with the public, to win back support, in this sort of mess!

It should surely dawn that something must have been wrong with policies, presentation or attitude, or even all of the above to discourage support from voters to such an extent. 

Although not a liberal, I can sympathise with and understand and agree with Kerr's thinking.  Parties in effect waving their fists at the electorate rather than have a good look at themselves itself betrays a flawed outlook that does not go unnoticed by voters. Doesn't SA ( or  Australia for that matter ) need a worthy opposition? To not show interest even in attempting, let alone providing it actually is an insult to be  perceived as just that, by the people. The attitudes demonstrated encourage a perception of a failure to accept personal faults or changed realities. 

The reality in SA is that Labor and the indies have seized the middle-ground from the libs. Chapman is more in the mould of Gillard or local ALP icon Jane Lomax-Smith; more "Dunstanesque" and likely to appeal to the more progressive free thinking centre. The symbolism and the "lightening up" would not have been lost on the electorate.

Chapman, for all her faults could have "grown into" the leadership, with a stolid but reliable deputy in Evans as foil; after the example of Dunstan-Corcoran decades ago.

 Like Gillard at federal level, Chapman is instead stalled- a woman and in the wrong, smaller and (comparatively) more progressive faction.

 The people mentioned above at least offered a chance for a fresh start for their parties, with a chance for an internal review and fresh thinking on policies and a contrasting style of policy presentation. The public would have noticed, but the inward looking faction heads, policy-less and preoccupied with preserving their little internal empires don't like looking at their own faults- they only blame others and demand compliance from an electorate they've made the mistake of underestimating, as per "nous".

2002 South Australia's Year Of The Outback (and Halliburton)

It's almost fitting, on my first anniversary as a Webdiarist, to arrive (almost) where I started.

What follows, when you follow it to the other end, makes you wonder how much infrastructure work is being "disguised" throught the SA Tourism Budget, and how much of the money will end up in the hands of Halliburton/KBR. I'm also pondering what funds the current Treasurer, who was happy to stand on the Assembly floor and accuse the previous Minister For Transport of using road money "to buy stained glass windows" (I was there on the day) might be diverting across Cabinet portfolios to achieve desired objectives.

[extract]

Keep an eye on SA Tourism tender chances

With the South Australian elections over, one of the keen points of interest for Australia’s construction industry will be how SA joins other State Governments in maintaining and hopefully lifting the level of investment in State infrastructure. In the post-Olympic construction lull, and with inner city residential activity levelling off, 2002 should be a good year for State Governments to get value for money in providing a wide variety of needed and useful facilities.

In the SA tenders area, interested parties should be finding it easier to get comprehensive information, following an announcement back on May 15, 2001. The then Premier unveiled a policy development:

“A New Dimension in Contracting with the South Australian Government”.

Under this all major Government contracts, including industry incentives, asset sales and consultancies, would be earmarked for public release. On the reasonable assumption the incoming Administration will maintain this commitment to clear and open government, South Australia should be just that bit more attractive for those interested in tenders and government contracts.

Work on the Alice Springs to Darwin [Halliburton built and owned] railway link will be providing a lot of construction employment for some time, in SA and the NT.

Elsewhere in South Australia, tourism has so far been the best harbinger of possible future tenders.

These words were written after the second-last election

Those of you who've read my "Stranger" piece know that, in 2002 the CEO of the Goolwa-based local council was visiting the KBR's Infrastructure Division Global Headquarters to look at the plans from the local wharf (item 21 here. You'll also know that KBR have proposed as a PPP a freshwater reclaimation system in the adjoining lake, which runs near the town of Mount Barker, for which KBR laid out the housing expansion.

Now I learn that much of the money for the Goolwa wharf redevelopment is coming not via roadworks but through tourism. Further down the Tendersearch page you find the words "In December, 2001 the outgoing [Liberal] Government foreshadowed work on a number of tourist facilities to cater for an influx of visitors for South Australia’s 2002 Year of the Outback." closely followed by "Altogether, South Australia would benefit from over $6.7 million in new Outback infrastructure over the next few years."

I knew of course of the planned upgrade of the Adelaide-Victor Harbour (which is a stone's throw from Goolwa) road and had been told who its designers where, but was unaware until now of the turn-off that would transform this road into the Southern Suburbs eastern roadlink that I was looking for earlier. 25kms before you get to Victor Harbour, you can turn eastwards at the Nangkita turn-off. From there you could scoot, if you had a good road, eastwards to Murray Bridge, and from there North to Roxby, North-East to Sydney or East to Melbourne.

Let's return to the wharf of the Murray's Mouth, whose redevelopment was planned by Halliburton/KBR.

[another Tendersearch extract]

The historic Goolwa Wharf precinct, at the mouth of the Murray River, has been earmarked for redevelopment, to help maintain the tourist appeal of the Fleurieu peninsula, to the south of Adelaide. The old wool and wheat paddle steamers which once plied the Murray River, pre-railways, started up river from Goolwa. Now it is a focal point for tourist vessels.

The project, with $1.2 million from the South Australian Tourism Commission’s Major Infrastructure Fund plus another $1.5 million from the local Alexandrina Council, would be implemented over a nine month construction period.

The rejuvenation effort includes extending the wharf and jetty, new and resurfaced road, car parking, pipes and drains, landscaping including street furniture, lighting, signage and public art and four new sites for commercial tourism enterprises.

Did I mention that the plans for the mid-lake water reclamation facility includes marinas and houses?

Back over at at Narrung, on the Lake's other side, the locals tell me that there's a twelve-domicile townhouse development scheduled to go up next to the wetlands... I don't have any paperwork yet but given that its a resting-place for migratory birds, it won't be the brightest place to be if Bird Flu breaks out.

Back over on the Goolwa side, there's something fishy five miles down the road from Goolwa at Port Elliot (where my parents run a pub) involving a council-owned abandoned drive-in that has become, with all the Halliburton-guided development, potentially very lucrative real estate (item 30 here.)

As I've said before, development around this area has been "going gangbusters" in what appears in hindsight to have been utilisation of the knowledge (which many knew) of the Victor Harbor road development that our peak automotive body RAA were championing. A drive-in lot can hold a lot of townhouses. What was the conflict of interest here?

I spoke before the election with the local Labor candidate, Mary-Lou Corcoran (daughter of a previous Labor Premier Des, the still-undecided seat last filled by Liberal ex-Premier Dean Brown.) Ironically she's facing the Liberal mayor of Kangaroo Island, once abandonded as SA's capital due to lack of water supply, now irrigated by Halliburton (Page 28) She was very suprised to read the KBR Goolwa connections I posted on the "Stranger" thread (partially to make them available to her) but I bet her boss Mr Rann wasn't... he's been personally fielding enquiries from the council regarding the lake redevelopment(Items 15.1 and 15.2 ), so I doubt he'd be unaware that Halliburton were sketching the jetty that would launch residents and tourists out to it. It would also be difficult for Rann to be unaware that the money wasn't coming through Transport or Infrastructure but through Tourism.

If you look at this map (on which Goolwa is at the lower left and realise that the southern suburbs of Adelaide are around 50km northwest of that point, you'll get the picture.

Another picture to think about is that if the author of the Tendersearch piece is correct then these plans are making a successful transition from government to government, no matter which political party is in charge at the time.

Thick as thieves, the lot of em, and it's fairly obvious who's driving the bus down the road to prosperity.

PPP's Privatisation ?

Paul, I'd have to look further regarding Sydney tunnel work-  all I know is that my friends don't come up too easy.  

What will be interesting, given that as part of his signed decree (which I'd love to see) Rann has also promised no more future privatisation.  Does this include PPP's ?  Combinations of government-controlled public assets and privately owned technology are all the rage these days, and while not strictly being privatisation, often amount to the equivalent in lease form.   At least in this manner we still own our assets... they just can't be 'monetised' without help from our friends.

 

For whom the toll tolls

Hey Richard and Paul,

I'm running out of word plays as title, don't know about you!

Thanks Richard for that link. Having moved to Queensland about five years ago I have to admit I had no idea Queensland has no Upper House. No watchdogs except ones appointed personally by Pete. We all feel safe with that arrangement. NOT. Known locally as Beattie's clearing house.

Politics here is really just Beattie trying to be funny and failing. But the alternative....Nationals and Liberals who hate each other more than they hate Labor. Beattie is so on the nose you'd think he'd get zip support at the polls but the reality is they will continue in government here simply because the alternative is horrific. Joh2, the return.

I lived in Adelaide for 14 years, Richard, and still can't call to mind the local RAA equivalent. Maybe it'll stick in another five years when I qualify as a Queenslander. I think I get a Maroons jumper. Yikes!

Your mention of the Darwin-Adelaide railway has memories for me as I lived in the NT for quite a few years also (no, I'm not as old as that may sound, just qualified for super payout}.

I worked in the NT Treasury Department for about three years and left there about two years before the event actually began. There was an office on the floor I worked on that people were moved to as punishment for whatever alleged infringement. It was a real job but not treated as such by anybody, particularly the winner of that room.

It was the job of managing the Darwin-Adelaide railway and no one took it seriously given the promises since Federation or near enough. The room had little toy trains in it and the occupants always seemed to out. Imagine the shock when the occupant realised there actually was going to be a train.

Back to toll roads. It amazes me that so little reaction has been shown as yet by Brisbanites. I guess we'll have to wait until the tunnels are built before people here understand what they let happen.

These six, now five, tunnels are the vision of Brisbane's Lord Mayor, the largest Council in Australia covering all of Brisbane. He actually got into office a couple of years ago on the back of this tunnel plan but he stated that it was all fully funded prior to the election.

Since then it has become clearer that fully funded meant the people will pay tolls for a planned 50 years by which time all the original fors and againsts will be long gone and people will just assume that's how it has always been. Meanwhile the pollies slip away with their golden parachutes and move to a nice little country town with no tolls.

Toll roads are an outrage, an insult to everyone's intelligence and even the Sydney disasters (to date) seem to go over people's heads here. What can you do? Maybe start concreting the River myself!

Toll Roads a la Adelaide-Darwin Railway

Plan the thing, tender for the building contract, collect the "rent" for the next fifty years or so. How can you go wrong? When the local business community puts its money into electing a leader who plans to stop you.

Halliburton's tollway activities in other parts of the world won't be replicated here.

You're right, Paul Walter, Rann's comments drew my eye very quickly, having read the following passaige some time ago:

...in June, 2004 the KBR consortium, DirectRoute, was awarded the contract to design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) the N8 Rathcormac-Fermoy bypass by the National Roads Authority in Ireland. The project is part of the NRA's public private partnership (PPP) roads programme in Ireland. KBR is the engineering, construction and services subsidiary of Halliburton (HAL: NYSE).

The DirectRoute consortium consists of KBR Ltd, Strabag AG, John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd, Lagan Holdings Ltd, Roadbridge Ltd. and the First Irish Infrastructure Fund (a joint AIB/European Investment Bank fund established for the purpose of investing in PPP projects and private sector infrastructure developments in Ireland and across Europe).

KBR is currently construction supervisor for the design and construction of the £350m Dublin Port Tunnel” The recent Comptroller and Auditor General report looking into the roads programme, originally estimated at €7 billion, now expects it to cost €16.4 billion, and rising. It noted that the 2000 estimated cost of the Dublin Port Tunnel rose from €220m to €580m in 2002.

Poor old Halliburton, they'll have to be content with running Adelaide's naval shipyard.

Tunnel of love

The link provided in the post  "Toll roads a la Adelaide Darwin Railway", from Richard Tonkin, reveals information concerning suspect tendering processes, enviro and heritage damage, cost overruns, "funnelling" of traffic and failure to secure traffic movement goals and objectives incorporated in mission statements, as well as "nasties" like costly-to-repair ventilation and fire-hazard problems eerily similar to the problems with Sydney's tunnels, as related through the 4 Corners program and other sources.

I'm almost afraid to ask- having forgotten- who built Sydney's tunnels?

 

I tolled you so

Ross Chippendale's post ponders whether SA Labor's first post-election move will be the reform or removal of the upper house. There is something afoot – as to the nature and extent the writer is unable to add more – certainly no use going to the Murdoch Advertiser in this one-newspaper state.

I'm sure the ALP would abolish it if they could, both for ideological and historical reasons (it was the traditional watchdog for vested conservative interests) as well pragmatic expedient reasons. Perhaps they'll move by way of referendum. After all, balance of power will still be held in the upper house by various independents and failure to negotiate meaningfully on reform could create an unwelcome public mess for a government intent on retaining credibility.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, the better option would be to reform it, however unpalatable this could be for a sitting government focussed on its own agenda implementation, preferably free of scrutiny.

Upper houses and senates provide for atypical viewpoints overlooked elsewhere, raised by groups as diverse and often oppositional as the Greens and FF. These often inadvertently turn up a slant on a given issue otherwise missed. If governments know their legislation is going to be subject to serious independent scrutiny from different angles, are they not then more likely to ensure that their legislation is worthy before presentation? Better sure than sorry later, as with the state bank debacle of the 'eighties.

I think the Democrats (and Greens in Tasmania – how absurd if, in trying to punish Howard and his IR etc, Tasmanians voted back in the man who put him there, in the last week of the 2004 election!!) are onlookers side-swiped by an electorate focussed on sending a message to Canberra re various repressive measures and trying to impose a check on federal power.

No one dislikes the Dems – they were just overlooked as voters concentrated on making certain points to state and federal conservatives (and express a bleat of fear as per the future). And the Dems are not the only grouping to "sell out" as far as federal or state legislation is concerned – Labor itself has been serially guilty of this for years now and infighting goes on within it also as purists try to retrieve it from the hacks, as the Dems rank and file did a couple of years.

Unfortunately, the Tasmanian and SA voters have forgone opportunities to impose a rational handbrake on economic rationalism by ignoring the Dems and Greens in favour of populist conservativism, which is a knee-jerk reaction revealing flaws in (sections of) the electorate's own mentality probably based on ignorance, hence fear and gut- prejudice.

The stories related by Ross about the ideologically imposed infrastructure/transport mess are bizarre and bordering on the horrific. They resonate, as do Malcolm B Duncan's gloomy comments for example, on the allied problem of the purloined legal system raised elsewhere. No wonder the likes of Minchin want the vestiges of the public system dismantled. They are too obvious an embarrassing reminder of the absurdity of the new system and the feasibility of the aborted public one.

The highwayman went riding

Ross, the tollways one is interesting. Especially as Rann is now chastising the RAA (our equivalent of NRMA and RACV) of acting like a political party during the election, and questioning the government's relationship with the peak body, in spite of their denials of heavy-handedness.

Given the intrinsic nature of roadway infrastructure to urban planning and thence property development, in some cases the speed of the arrival involves a helluva lot of money. A good example is to the south of our town, where the previously tourist based coastline has been subjected to a whirlwind of purchase and redevelopment ahead of one of the state's worst-kept secrets, the proposed four-lane road (tollway?) being re-championed by the RAA and Liberals a couple of weeks back, and planned by "guess which company". Certainly parts of the road, on which I travel regularly, are a death-trap, and a road built in the 50's isn't equipped to handle the transport loads it now carries. However, the cynic in me can't help wondering if these issues might be of secondary importance to the profitability levels of new housing being created for the "population influx" that the new "dormitory distance" to Adelaide that the new road would create.

The combination of this and another new road , from Victor Harbour, past the area that I described (which has since sadly been slated for housing development, 12 townhouses on the wetland) in this Webiary piece, would create an industry-suitable transport corridor from Adelaide's southern suburbs to the regional city of Murray Bridge, and from there northwards to the expanded uranium mines (have a skim on Google Earth) and eastward to Melbourne and Sydney.

There's potentially billions of dollars riding on the laying of a couple of strips of asphalt, that industry might have paid for through tolls. Does Rann's announcement signal a delay in all this activity, or that other means of funding, such as directly taxing the commercial profit-makers, will now be used instead of charging the “average” motorist?

As for the Upper House abolition plans, these were announced last year, and the Greens, Democrats (yes, Ross, nobody will forgive the GST stuff-ups) and the goat-whiffy Xenophon now say they'll oppose.

Toll fatigue

Hey Robyn, I searched looking for info on this statement that you provided:

"We'll be introducing legislation when Parliament comes back which will set up a referendum for the next election in terms of reform of the Upper House in South Australia."

I found nothing. Anyone know what the plans are? Is it abolish Upper House or just ban anyone but Labor as candidates? Jest, but I am interested.

For Paul, the road toll really is bloody annoying (mild term) and I daily wonder why so little public opposition is apparent. The road toll used to be the term used for the number of deaths. Perhaps it now refers to the number of bankruptcies?

On Etags (more horror) Brisbane has introduced a beauty. All those who have voluntarily had the transponder fitted to their vehicles are subject to a hidden cost, revealed not long ago when Beattie simply stated it is fact and will stay. A minimum mandatory charge has been created for those with transponders who do not use the roads covered sufficiently in a given period (I think it's monthly).

Yep, that's right, those people are now paying for NOT using the bloody toll roads. What's next? I shouldn't ask.

Still on Etags, visiting Sydney by vehicle these days is a horror show for interstate travellers as you are channelled towards these Etag roads where if you do get stuck and can't avoid them there is a fine for not paying if you don't dob yourself in within a short period (is it 24 hours?). Assuming you noticed a phone number somewhere.

Selling publicly owned property to private ownership has to stop, unless we can sell some of the politicians. Perhaps the live pollies trade would gather us a few bucks, but not a lot. Is the Middle East interested?

For Richard, I note your comment about the Democrats blaming the GST decision for their collapse. Do you not agree? I know local politics may say that's not the case but nationally it seems to be a common hatred, all created by Meg's need for the spotlight one last time, nearly.

I couldn't vote Democrats after that, regardless of what they promise. Equally other small parties are sucked in by the Feds as Family First found out. Those small parties have to be strong to resist what goes on the table as offerings but the Greens seem to have avoided that game.

Rann's plans

I didn't know about the anti-toll plans either Ross, not that I disapprove. However another thing we haven't heard about are the plans to "reform" the Legislative Council.

The ABC reported on Rann outlining his plans on Sunday morning:

"We'll be introducing legislation when Parliament comes back which will set up a referendum for the next election in terms of reform of the Upper House in South Australia," he said.

Always a mistake to give a government too many seats!

For whom the bell tolls

Mike Rann and treasurer Foley, who is usually eco-rat par excellence have reiterated Rann's comments on Saturday night, re no more privatisations/ tolls.

I see the significance of this has already drawn the attentions of Ross Chippendale and Richard Tonkin.

Could it be after a generation of government, hence taxpayer fingers being burnt flirting with Big Commerce at the behest of those peddling neo-liberal nostrums, that a politician somewhere has finally learnt the lesson!?

This very day a ruckus has again erupted in Victoria concerning the utter inefficiency of private rail. And who of those who watched could forget the continuing NSW tunnels/ roads debacle covered so effectively by Four Corners less than a month ago.

Yet those who watched Saturday night's SA election coverage will recall the peevish zealot cheek of Minchin in an aside to Foley concerning just the issue Richard Tonkin raised.

Once a fundamentalist, always one. How greedy and pig-headed can these parasites get?

For whom the road tolls?

Rann's plans to ban toll roads is going to upset some people, especially those behind Advertiser editorials suggesting that pay-per-drive was an inevitability (I've been wondering why references to the topic were culled from a published letter of mine last week).

We have two major companies that have major tollways contracts elsewhere, Tenix and Halliburton, and it's a fair guess that the elimination of such a profitable investment scheme won't be going down too well in certain parts of Greehill Road.

Meanwhile the Australian is reporting that former Democrats party leader John Coulter is blaming their 4.6 % statewide voting downturn (leaving them with a total of 2.8%) on Meg Lees handling of the GST issue. Correction of last post - I meant Lewis' LIPS instead of Lewis Libs.. Freud is playing with my mind today. Sorry I can't put links, my box of nifty html functions has vanished

Tolled out!

Hey Richard, thanks for raising the topic of tolls. I was totally unaware that SA had plans to not toll. I'll read up. In Brisbane and NSW it appears the only way these governments think (is that correct use for them?)

Maybe, just maybe, the proposed tolls in Brisbane and Sydney to Brisbane will be reconsidered. I won't hold my breath but your item gives me some light way out there somewhere to follow.

The way Brisbane is supposedly planning they may as well just concrete the Brisbane River over as the number of tunnels and bridges in train will totally ruin what is already a mostly toxic river.

Getting your goat

The man who used the goat got 20 per cent of the vote. In the Upper House, Democrats MLC is still hopeful, while Xenophon, who Premier Rann has suggested "stole" the Democrats angle of "keeping the bastards honest", could have three seats to only one remaining SA Democrat. Sandra Kanck, who has been a tireless worker for many causes, faces the possibility of being Upper House party leader of only herself.

The man whose decision started this ball rolling by choosing to support Labor over Liberal in a hung Parliament, former Speaker Peter Lewis, has failed.in his bid to change houses, citing lack of media support as the reason for his downfall. Four years ago the Libs were shocked to hear the word "Labor" fall as a decision from Lewis' Libs, as they were expecting to hear something else. If wishes were fishes, things would be very different this morning. Well, different in some ways, anyhow.

Lib Sour Grapes

Local journo Samela Harris has an interesting take on the Libs' reaction to defeat on her Angry Penguin blog

[extract]

Rather than admit that they had been bettered in the polls, they chorused a line of sour grapes carping that, obviously, had been the on-the-spot brainchild of one of their spin doctors. Their line was that the voters had been naive because they had not understood that Labor's success in Government and the healthy state of the State was really due to the national Liberal Government's economic policy out of Canberra. And these voters were in for a big, dire shock.

Which leads me to a need to clarify what I said earlier. I believe that if a multiple war theatre situation breaks out Adelaide could be in for some very interesting times, in the Chinese sense (or, in this case perhaps, Korean) as a hub of a lot of "Coalition" activity. This indeed would be a "big, dire shock", but I doubt it's what the Libs have in mind with their angle.

Hmmm...

Skinner boxes

I notice both Syd and Fiona latching onto the Federal-State strategy. An allied time honoured old practice seldom out of vogue also that surfaces in elections is the punishment of nasty federal big brothers by the ritual flogging of local affiliates.

As usual, the power imbalance made elector resistance almost futile for in this case, how could the electorate pay out Howard and still keep some sort of effective rein on Labor?

Democracy is an unwieldy beast, as so many in these threads have pointed out. How can politicians engage with a capricious public when they occasionally do wish to deal with a serious issue?

Equally, how can the long-since gelded and gagged electorate, reduced to the ineffectual election pantomiming of a one in several years plebiscite, have a snowflake's hope in hell of engaging politicians attentions. It's a bit like my cat.

He can't tell me he wants to go out. The best he can do is sit next to the door and turn and then turn back and gaze meaningfully at me. And if, despite the relentless piercing gaze, I choose not to get off my butt till the next commercial, he waits. That is, just as I wait, when I want him indoors later and he sits just away from the door, in turn refusing to oblige me.

The limited stratagems available to the public seldom work anyway, because the politicians know what is in the hearts of voters and voters know this. Voters also know what is in the hearts of politicians, who know this also.

We discover a situation analogous to19th century courtship rituals and marriage, as depicted from the Brontes and Dickens to Hollywood, where the disempowered wife, in taffeta and cute little pill-box bonnet may scold, flounce, weep, plead. But Basil Blackheart, undeterred, will do his worst one way or another shortly heading off to town having got his wicked way, leaving our heroine dishevelled and weeping on the rug.

The at times energetic and intricate performances of the electorate seldom go unnoticed by politicians, but even more seldom are these acknowledged by same. There is a mechanism missing - Hand of God? Something is required to make the thing work truly effectively. In the meantime we are left with reality.

Still, I suppose it's not the Congo or Iraq.

Yet.

The faces of Janus

Actually, Paul, I have a lot of time for Angus Redford. I spent last night at his electoral office, and ended up "crashing" in his spare room. Had the Liberals won Government the man would today be the Minister for Energy in a state holding 40% of the world's uranium. Instead he's clearing out his office while the Advertiser takes photos.

Comparing this man to one whose election day tabloid photo was alongside a goat (supposedly to tell people not to "kid around" with their vote, but maybe to titillate the Masonic community) is a chalk-and-cheese scenario, and yet we're maybe about to see Xenophon controlling three LegCo votes.

While it's great to see a new face like Chloe Fox entering state politics, it's also a crying shame to see the likes of Angus leaving the arena. When you consider that it's Labor that will be helping Howard and Bush take Australia's uranium to India and bringing the residents of Mumbai to Adelaide, I don't think Chloe's going to be of much help in such issues. No, I'm not a Liberal, but I watched the man work bloody hard to protect Adelaide's live music venues, and have an enormous respect for what he did. Would Labor have passed protective music venue legislation if the groundwork hadn't been laid? I'm not that sure. I think Angus' approach to SA's role in global energy would have made a difference. Vale, Mr Redford, and high hopes for whatever you do next.

Followers of the political donations trails will probably be raising eyebrows when the figures come out. Business SA's endorsement of Labor to implement their infrastructure-focussed economic blueprint, and their leader's swiftly televised congratulations last night, suggests that big business has deserted its traditional champion. I can't wait to find out how much money went to whom.

I agree with Paul's assessment of the Labor win as a "Janus-faced victory". This little win was achieved almost entirely by media management and it's my personal opinion that the public might be in for a rude shock a year into this mandate. If Rann's team is being funded by the "big end of town" then the ship of state is being skippered by a helmsman who's up in the cocktail lounge with the first-class passengers, while we're steered by autopilot ... or remote control.

The Goat of Mendez

Hi Richard.

As regards Angus Redford, it's true I was writing my comment impromptu stunned not only from the point of view of the fact of the defeat, but as to damage done to the finite core pool of talent available to the state parliamentary Libs. As it turns out recent electoral events state and federal, also commented on by Fiona Reynolds and Syd Drate in these threads, are of such a pattern and nature as to have drawn a considered response also from Alan Ramsey in the SMH over the weekend.

I found it out: Labor again did some sort of deal with FF for the upper house. How can Labor prefer FF to the Greens and Democrats?

Despite the disastrous consequence of this no-gain strategy in 2004 federally Labor again flirted with this strategy, ensuring a dumbing down effect in parliament. And did it clandestinely. Had I known earlier...

So, the same mistakes made in the past as to the SA economy could be being made again. The putting of all eggs into the mining and “dumb” real estate baskets, rather than expending the effort and imagination required to grow a diversified "knowledge" economy.

We will eventually have just the ghost of a chance of uranium coming back to us in processed form, by way of an ICBM from some frustrated and volatile part of Asia.

And we become complicit in the deaths of often-decent people elsewhere, when the weapons we produce are used in unethical wars.

Still, I suppose if the Libs had got in it would not have been much different, given the array of interests interested in pushing for this.

Must be an angel.

Fiona, you have me thinking of the old Eurythmics song.

My gorgeous; my angel, my rapier-witted apple-blossom!!

Actually, this is "stop press". The mysterious upper House Votes Overboard have turned up in the pockets of dapper young lawyer and anti- poker machine independent, Nick Xenophon. He has two quotas (ie, seats), in the upper house, but only himself to sit on them so is looking for someone he feels appropriate (possibly an anti-drugs campaigner who also ran) to join him. His well-oiled campaign garnered him more than 120,000 votes on latest counting, whilst the hapless Democrats have only managed about twenty thousand so far. Pity, too. Their sitting member, Kate Reynolds, looked an excellent long-term prospect and their possible vehicle for renewal.

The Greens are tantalisingly within sight, yet just out of reach of an upper-house seat.

The ALP leadership, in view of this unexpectedly large win are now talking about abolishing their old Bete Noir, the once aristocratic Upper House.

Finally, the depth of the Liberal defeat is realised in considering that several of their inner leadership group were turfed out. I'd include Angas Redford, who I think is an acquaintance of Richard Tonkin's, in this, as his move from the upper house appears to have been aborted at the hands of personable Labor candidate, Chloe Fox, who is the daughter of the writer Mem Fox.

For me, to celebrate is to enjoy a mug of tea. I (hopefully) know my limits and weaknesses. Simple gifts, these.

Besides, I learned a long time ago not to celebrate election "victories", particularly Janus-faced ones like this.

Moderation in all things

Provided, Paul, that it was the best Lapsang Souchong – the burgundy of teas, in my opinion. Ah, to know oneself – one of the few remaining pleasure of advancing years...

In all seriousness, however, the South Australian election result is interesting for a number of reasons. First, the extent of the Labor victory. Hmm, what lessons could Federal Labor possibly take from this, I wonder? Second, Nick Xenophon’s success, providing yet another example of the potential role of the high-profile independent. (Of course, I don’t regard the Federal government’s “purely State-based” reaction as interesting.)

Nevertheless, I am forced to consider one other issue, namely, the propensity of Australian voters for the last 30 years to – seemingly deliberately – opt for one major party at state level and the other major party at federal level. Akin, indeed, to the way that Australian voters like to have one major in control of the House of Reps but to deny them command of the Senate. Oh, I forgot. That’s changed, hasn’t it? Could this be a portent? Dammit, where’s Alphonse when one needs him?

No Nostradamus

So much for my predictions! Labor has even ousted Robert Brokenshire, the sitting Liberal member in my own electorate, a shadow minister who is very hard-working and well-liked locally. I didn't vote for him, but it won't be quite the same without him on the governing council at the high school.

NewsFlash!!! ...Rannslide!

With 55% of the vote counted in SA, the "Rannslide" predicted by some seems to have eventuated with a vengeance. The swing is about 8% and Labor's primary vote is running at 47%. Seats rusted on to the Libs since Joshua played full-back for Jerusalem are set to go to Labor, giving it a fat majority.

The other big losers appear to the Democrats, whose portion of the vote has probably been inherited by the Greens.

Various reasons for the result already proffered include a lacklustre campaign from the Libs, "renewal", according to Deputy Premier and right faction luminary Kevin Foley, press bias as the pivotal factor from one frustrated ousted Liberal.

Given that Sen. Nick Minchin is part of the commentary panel , the other big idea been floated – a nasty reaction to federal IR legislation – appears to be making his uncomfortable evening even worse. But the intriguing Upper House result will possibly not be known for some time, and this is important, since it will reveal what "break" – if any – the Rann government will be subject to.

As I speak, the news is being given that the people of Tasmania, in an exercise of dubious taste, have decided to stick by Lennon Labor there.

Neither in Tasmania or SA, are voters’ minds exercised by more complex "green" issues such as defence, uranium or forests, seemingly. The esoterics are just too "hard". Even though the country seems prosperous the electorate is still insecure about jobs and the ephemeral, transitory nature of economic cycles.

Fiona: Hi, Paul – still sipping tea? Or something a little more appropriate to the augustness of the occasion? And should I send commiserations to my fellow-student Senator Minchin? Hmm, perhaps not...

Rannslide

Everything is looking good for the re-election of John Howard at the next election. We let Labor piddle around in State matters, but we dare not trust them at the Federal level.

Anyway, does politics in Tasmania and SA really matter?

As long as Labor holds the States, the Libs will run the country and we should be thankful for that. I suppose it will take Beazley 12 months to work out what happened.

postcard from a foreign correspondent

I sit in the retreating glow of mild euphoria derived of the exercise of civic virtus.

It is state election day here in Adelaide. As one roped into handing out how to vote cards for a political party for a couple of hours, I now feel the need to retrieve the experience. Any Web Diarist who may feel inclined may partake of this ramble.

I'll preface with a general observation to the effect that in retrospect voting day is a sort of ritual and a ritual (re)affirmation of parochial community – it is something vaguely likeable. As a teenager I would have scorned such events: really “square". The mellowness is part of the baggage of increasing age.

The polling booth in question, located in Adelaide's inner-west is, of course, Labor heartland, although even here not as "close" as once upon a time. Since the community centre is half way up the street, those who can cover both approaches are for the narrow purposes of the exercise advantaged. I notice, surprisingly, only one of the main opposition's troops, a well-groomed and likeable looking male a few years older than me. He is standing just off from the rest of the scrum of other leafleteers opposite to where I am standing. Within in this pack is positioned another Labor poll worker.

In the above-mentioned group two middle-aged women, one Greens, the other Family First, are deep in animated conversation with another Xenophon supporter (I am conversing with the other, on this side of the doors), while the lone Democrats distributor, with a hint of desperation perhaps motivated the sinking fortunes of his party, tries to cover both sides of the entrance. The Dems are not a bad crowd, and are still being punished (too?) severely for Meg Lees' GST move and the later infighting. Hence the presence of Centrist independents and Greens, competing with Family First and One Nation particularly for the last elusive Upper House places. No sign of anyone holding O.N. how to vote cards though. Or HEMP reps (whooaahh??).

Oddly, the FF woman holds my attention. I feel oddly drawn to her. The reason she is there is confirmed by the appearance of two teenagers who must be her kids, who cop a lecture for announcing they are staying out tonight.

It dawns on me that she a receptacle of an old fashioned heart over head conservatism of home and hearth that she so obviously represents. She is fearful for her young, as per drugs, sexual misconduct and so forth are concerned and merely oblivious to issues that preoccupy others at this booth. She is not malicious, but you can tell she'll shoot first and ask questions later on issues she feels relate to her home and kids.

In a sense, I can identify with her. My own fears of disempowerment and loss of an Australian community express themselves differently, as per more abstract yet equally serious "underlying" issues such as “development", politicians and political economy, declining social wage and infrastructure, environment, media community, etc. But for her politics appears to be openly and unabashedly the personal and domestic, and beyond that she is probably "not interested". But for her, I feel an odd sense of kin, liking and respect, even if we probably would disagree violently as to politics. At least she is no less motivated by concern than I am. It just manifests itself in a different form.

I can't change her, but I can use my advantage to hand out how to vote cards at my location, and get to know the other No Pokies Xenophon supporter, who is a knock-about bloke recovering from gambling problems himself. 'Nuff said.

A couple of young blokes with accusatory looks on their faces brush past brusquely. My bet is they are Young Liberal gentlemen and their mien, after a slight initial sense of irritation I find gives way in me to an inward rejoicing.

Finally my relief turns up; a petite young woman who sends me off to vote. I note that not that many took cards from FF and she fixes me a firm look before demanding, with a wry grin, "well, what do you expect?"

 But I grab a Greens card from the woman handing them out on the way in, too. I liked her also and besides still want a think about how to do that Upper House card in the simple or complex way. After that, home and a cup of tea, to wait on Kerry O'Brien and the wash-up.

Lack of Warship Debate

Following on from Paul Walter's mention of the AWD deal, of which anyone who's been reading my Your Democracy blog will know that I believe was a brilliant piece of stageplay. Here's a reprint of what I've written in the Advertiser today. Three letters in eight days...thanks!

There has been one aspect to this election campaign that has been resounding in its silence. The trumpeting announcements of new South Australian defence contracts have slipped through the last few weeks with not even a murmur, let alone fanfare [not technically correct, but close enough].

The warship contract expansion of the Port Adelaide Maritime precinct [now under the control of Halliburton's ex-VP for Infrastructure], the increase in military personnel residing here... all were proclaimed with pride by Premier Mike Rann, but have not been considered suitably meritorious as vote-winning propaganda. What about all the claims last year from the Rann Government about the number of jobs they would help create? It's now election day and nothing has been said.

Surely Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer's claims [Beazley represented Federal Labor at the state rally, while the Libs were stuck with Alex] that credit for these belonged to the Federal Government weren't reason enough for total silence?

I wonder whether your researchers decided that the Defence State concept was not something that would assist Labor to gain power? Just the idea restores my faith in human nature.

 Equally surprising is the lack of interest shown by other political parties some of which should have, I think, considered the subject a major issue.

Don't forget that the last SA Government was decided on the alignment whim of independent MP Peter Lewis. Anything can happen yet…maybe even the first Liberal/Family First Coalition.

Rannbo Rannslide?

A number of thoughts come to mind concerning this thread.

Firstly, a news report yesterday suggested that the Libs have clawed back some of the deficit and things may be close after all. Too much of a Presidential campaign from Rann?

As for the Libs in general, Christian Kerr, in a reasonable piece ("On a road to nowhere", Messenger; 15/3/06) suggested in this Murdoch local rag that apart from missing some of their usual big business funding, as Richard mentions, their deputy leader Ian Evans, who I think may also be related to one of the pentecostal Family First leaders, has not proven adequate in comparison to the retiring Dean Brown, a former state premier himself.

FF has certainly run an aggressive campaign, and will (unfortunately) perhaps hold the balance of power at the expense of one of the fragmented centre factions (ALP/ Democrats/ Greens/ Xenophon/ Lewis/ Libs? etc ), should Labor be returned.

Kerr marred his article slightly at one point, becoming briefly preoccupied with the unthinkable proposition that the six billion dollar destroyer contract was somehow "welfare".

Well, so what?

SA is a "rustbelt" state and a place where "reform" has bitten hard into the lives of many decent people over the last generation. In our world the abstracted Free Market remains an enduring myth, against the reality of subsidies, protection, cronyism, global corporations, national interest, retention of strategic industries based on skills etc. The US wheat sector mentioned in Rowley and Tonkin's thread concerning the AWB is a typical example. How can we be unilaterally be "competitive"?

So few here will give a flying F--- where help comes from, given the way the world appears to work.

Back to the election. Rann has a glint in his eye, so if there is a late swing back to the libs, it will be because the electorate has maybe finally begun to twig that giving one or other of the major parties too big a majority is too much of a recipe for lazy government.

Besides, both parties have sworn on a stack of Bibles that they won't run a deficit, so economic rationalsim is well-entrenched here anyway, what ever happens.

As for Tasmania, from this far away one wonders if (a) Lennon's time of accounting has arrived (b) whether the strong campaign from the Greens will be rewarded.

A little shake-up?

It might be a "Rannslide", but I wouldn't be surprised if the electorate sends Labor a little something to stop them feeling so cocky. I think their negative advertising will actually lose them votes, and the Rann personality campaign is more suited to the US. I was personally somewhat offended to discover that Leon Bignell, the candidate, was not Labor's but "Rann's man in Mawson", and I think Australians generally prefer the team player to the prima donna.

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