POLITICS: by Mark PosaNews Weekly
SA swings away from major parties
, March 25, 2000
In an article in the Adelaide Advertiser (March 3, 2000), Dean Jaensch gave an interesting background to the political scene in South Australia.
News Weekly has frequently pointed out that the continuing decline in the first preference votes of the major parties could produce a similar situation to that which existed in the late 1930s.
In his article, Jaensch showed that at the election in 1938, Independent candidates won 40 per cent of the vote giving them 14 seats, plus one "Single Tax" candidate.
If the polls are correct in South Australia, the first preference votes of the ALP and Liberals combined barely represents 66 per cent of the total vote, and it appears this trend is increasing. As Jaensch says in his article, "The past decade or so has produced a new trend in Australian electors - the rise and rise of independents and minor parties".
Neither the ALP nor the Liberals are attracting support for their policies, particularly in rural areas where economic difficulties are the order of the day. This is clearly shown by the number of people leaving country areas to drift to metropolitan areas in search of a living.
Despite the optimistic forecasts presented by Premier John Olsen, unemployment and economic gloom continue to concern South Australia, particularly those who are feeling the effects. The recent unemployment figures show South Australia with the worst result in the nation. Now 8.7 per cent it recorded the highest rise - one per cent over the previous figures.
Is it any wonder that prominent businessmen are publicly expressing concern.
The Labor Party under the leadership of Mike Rann does not appear to have much to offer. A prime example in the public's mind is the unpopularity of the Emergency Services Levy, yet the ALP voted for it when it was placed before Parliament.
A big problem for Labor, and one which has lost it a great deal of support among the ordinary voter, is the factional fighting taking place within the Party. Unless this can be overcome, the Party's already diminishing grass roots support will decline further.
At the moment, the House of Assembly has two Independents. At the last election three were elected but one - Mitch Williams - has returned to the Liberals, much to the dismay of the electors of McKillop who voted him in. It is not inconceivable they will vote for another Independent if one stands.
This could also be the case in several other seats. For example, if the ALP withdraws Ralph Clarke's pre-selection in Enfield, he could win the seat as an Independent, and the same holds for a number of other electorates.
Dean Jaensch's prediction may just be proven true.