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Democrats Legislative Council team (L-R) Jeanie Walker, Sandra Kanck, Tom Salerno
7The Independent Weekly
March 12 - 18, 2010
In Rudyard Kipling s story
The Man Who Would Be King,
adventurer Daniel Dravot climbs
the world s highest mountain range
against impossible odds, musters
a loyal army from a position of
weakness, wins over hostile villages
with guile and charm and almost
-- almost -- succeeds in building a
prosperous, unified civilisation in a
forgotten part of the globe.
Did Isobel Redmond read the
book? Should we give away the
"I ve read the Gettysburg
Address," she points to the wall
behind her. Ms Redmond is in her
electorate office, a sparse if not
Spartan room with little evidence
of personality. Four framed docu-
ments dominate, and even they are
small. Her "documents of freedom",
she calls them, and her favourite is
a facsimile of Abraham Lincoln s
Gettysburg Address. He wrote what
may be the world s most famous
speech in his own hand.
"I take it as a wonderful thing,
a lesson for all politicians, that a
speech in 1863 is still quoted today
because it was from the heart and
wasn t overly long. He said what he
needed to say and sat down."
"And you re going to sack your
speechwriter and do exactly that?"
Ms Redmond is asked, gently.
"I don t have a speech writer,"
laughs the Leader of the
Opposition. But she might need
one soon. The Premier of South
Australia has a gaggle of journal-
ists in his employ, and they craft
almost every syllable he speaks.
Will she send the lot packing?
Probably, at least until she
realises that there s a great deal
of difference between being an
Opposition Leader for less than
a year and a Premier for a whole
The difference is between making
proposals and actually making
the law, the difference between
promises and policy.
But first, she wants to talk about
promises -- and promises of policy.
"I think people are hearing our
message as far as policies, and there
are significant policy differences,"
she says. "Water security is the
number-one issue. Labor are
stormwater sceptics and we want to
recycle stormwater. On the number-
two issue of health, they want to
build a new hospital and we want
to rebuild on the existing site. Then
you get Glenside, keeping schools
open instead of closing them in
favour of their so-called super
schools. Having an ICAC -- they are
opposed to it.
"We are clearly having very
different policies from the govern-
Ms Redmond s media minder,
Andrew Coombe, looks at his watch.
When he s not doing that he s look-
ing at his phone as it vibrates on the
deck where we sit. He makes this
interview seem like a favour to us
and an inconvenience to her. Some
of Adelaide s media corps fear he s
already trying to control the media,
not just its agenda, almost as much
as the current Premier s media
secretary Jill Bottrall.
Like Redmond, Coombe was
plucked from semi-obscurity,
and like Bottrall, he may be
tarred and feathered as well as
plucked if he tries to emulate the
current Premier s style of media
management. But this is not an
easy interview from Coombe s
perspective. Who knows what
his boss might inadvertently say,
what slip of the tongue might lead
to a slip in support? The polls are
up, the outlook good. Why risk a
long interview with a newspaper
reporter when a quick grab on
the television news is so much
Because Redmond is a risk-taker.
"Like Barack Obama, I would
rather be a one-termer who actually
achieves something, than a person
who sits on their hands for the first
term based on the political theory
that if you do nothing the electorate
won t punish you in four years
because you haven t done anything
particularly wrong," she says. "I
want to achieve things for this
Redmond looks far more relaxed
than her minder, but she s on her
home patch here: a familiar office
in a familiar town in a familiar
"As the member for Heysen
for seven-and-a-half years I had
attended everything I could pos-
sibly go to in my electorate, which
is about 100 square kilometres and
a couple of dozen communities. I
live here so I shop here, I walk the
streets here, I have dinner at the
restaurants and pubs here and so
on. I travel around it regularly."
The promises, the
policies and the past
Press secretary Andrew Coombe and Isobel Redmond at the Leader's Stirling office.
Photo: Kate Elmes
Continued Page 8
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