February 23rd 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: New Zealand's Economic U-Turn

Reality finally bites Democrats' leader

Family First rises, Democrats fall, in South Australia poll

2002 NCC National Conference - Building the Movement

Straws in the Wind: Andersen's Fairy Tales / Flying / Out of Africa

New Zealand to vote on new Constitution?

Bioethics: Cloning concerns must be addressed

Letters: "Booming" economy?

Letters: Politics to blame

Letters: Hot air

Letters: True ALP position

Media: Cross-media ownership laws / Negative coverage?

United States: Is the terrorist threat being politicised?

Economics: Privatisation - essential component of globalisation

Law: Abortion link to breast cancer victory

Books promotion page

Family First rises, Democrats fall, in South Australia poll

by Paul Russell

News Weekly, February 23, 2002

Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle!
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee had spoiled his nice new rattle

An absence of rattles notwithstanding, the state election campaigns of both Liberal and Labor lacked anything that might have offered the voting public of South Australia a clear choice at the February 9 poll.

While the combined primary vote of the major parties was slightly up on the 1996 figures, 25 per cent of South Australians still gave their first preference to the minor parties and independents, indicating both continued dissatisfaction and confusion.

Minority government?

At the time of writing, the seats of Norwood and Hartley are in the balance. Should Labor win both seats, they will form government with a majority of one. Should the Liberals win at least one of the two, they could form a minority government with the support of the three conservative independents and the sole National Party member.

A Liberal minority government remains the likely outcome though it may be more than a week before the result is declared.

The most significant and only uniform swing was against the Democrats. A loss of around 9.5 per cent across the State cannot easily be accounted for despite State Leader Mike Elliott’s best attempts to do so.

The almost total absence of Natasha Stott Despoja from the Democrat campaign will be seen by many as an acknowledgement that she is a liability and that a leadership challenge cannot be far off.

"The change of leader has had an impact," said Stott Despoja during the ABC’s election broadcast. She was, of course, referring to Kerin and the Liberals, though she could as easily have been referring to her own party.

The Family First Party, formed in July last year, garnered 2.6 per cent of the vote in the Lower House at its first attempt, and has also secured a seat in the Legislative Council.

Family First was formed by two well-known Adelaide Assemblies of God pastors, at the suggestion of "No Pokies" MP, the Hon Nick Xenophon MLC, to represent the interests of families in government.

Their campaign was professionally managed and was based upon the personal contact of the principals with every Christian Church in the State.

In two seats Family First outpolled the Democrats and came close in three others.

With both major parties claiming to be the most "family friendly", it is interesting to note that most Labor candidates rated Family First significantly lower in preferences than their Liberal counterparts.

Of significant concern to all South Australians should be the presence of the fourteen ALP women candidates who were endorsed by Emily’s List.

Emily’s List (Early Money Is Like Yeast - it makes the dough rise) is a political network established in 1996 to fulfil the 1994 ALP National Conference Affirmative Action Policy resolution that, by 2002, 35 per cent of candidates for winnable seats should be women.

Emily’s List makes no secret about its pro-choice policy, its affirmation of women’s rights to "control their own fertility" and to "decide on matters concerning their own sexuality".

Carol Altmann in The Australian (February 5, 2002) went so far as to suggest that Emily’s List had caused a split within the ALP.

New Labor Deputy

Regardless of the final outcome, a leadership battle looms within the Labor Party for the role of deputy. Mike Rann’s current deputy, Annette Hurley, chose to leave her safe seat of Napier to contest the Liberal seat of Light. The move proved unsuccessful.

High-profile Labor candidate and former Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Jane Lomax-Smith, has won the seat of Adelaide and is widely tipped to fill the vacancy, however, the need for experience may see John Hill promoted.

Should Labor lose the election, Mike Rann may well depart and hand the leadership on to the Shadow Treasurer, Kevin Foley.

On the other hand, a Liberal loss could reignite the factional infighting that has for so long characterised Liberal Party politics. The unity that has existed since Rob Kerin became Premier in October would be unlikely to last on the opposition benches.

  • Paul Russell

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