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7The Independent Weekly
July 16 - 22, 2010
state politics Nick Harmsen
Labor's fight for Senate a knockout battle
Will Labor gain control of the
"The Senate election should not
be a case of comparing 2010 with
2007. Rather, since senators have
terms of six years, 2010 should be
compared with 2004," psephologist
Malcolm Mackerras said.
"In 2004, the result in SA was
three Labor and three Liberal.
My prediction for 2010 is three
Liberal, two Labor and one for the
"Consequently, I predict the total
for SA from July next year will be
five Liberal, four Labor, two for the
Greens and one Xenophon."
Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher
will replace the outgoing Nick
Minchin at the top of the Liberal
Senate ticket, ahead of state Liberal
Party president Sean Edwards.
Former member for Wakefield
David Fawcett and state vice-
president Peter Salu complete the
Labor is putting Transport
Workers Union (TWU) state
secretary Alex Gallacher at the top
of its Senate ticket, guaranteeing
him a place in the red chamber.
He replaces Senator Annette
Hurley, who will not recontest the
This means that Senators Anne
McEwen and Dana Wortley will
be second and third on the ticket,
respectively. By the Mackerras
prediction, Senator Wortley will be
out of a job next July.
The pre-selections once again
show the influence of former
shoppies union boss Don Farrell,
himself now a senator. The Right-
wing muscleman backed Gallacher
Gallacher yesterday gave
The Independent Weekly strong
indications that he would
re-contest his existing position in
the upcoming TWU elections, and
then resign when he takes his place
in the Senate in 12 months.
There are some in the TWU who
believe Gallacher should relinquish
his union job the moment he
becomes a senator-elect.
"Transport Workers Union terms
are decided every four years,"
"We re moving into an election
cycle as we speak. I need to work
until June of next year because of
the way the Senate changes over;
there s a full term and it s fixed, so
absolutely it s a high possibility I
will stand as state secretary again."
Mr Gallacher has been a full-time
official for 22 years.
"It s a big step up and a learning
experience, and I m hoping I ll be
good for the challenge," he said.
"The Howard Government proved
that getting unions involved in
politics is done at your peril. We re
still seeing lasting effects of those
changes and it shows that messing
with working people is not good for
Greens lead candidate is
Penny Wright, the former deputy
president of the State Guardianship
Board and wife of state Greens
MLC Mark Parnell. Ms Wright will
effectively fight Senator Wortley
for the sixth senate seat -- and
almost certainly defeat the ALP
-- with Farrin Foster
The magic of marginals
Mike Rann s account of
his "toast and coffee"
conversation with the new
Prime Minister this week reads like
a stump speech.
"Good meeting with Julia Gillard
this morning on South Australian
issues. Very proud of her SA
heritage!" the Premier twittered.
"We talked about SA s renewable
energy and mining push, economic
devpt, health, etc."
All very important, no doubt, but
one imagines they would have had
more pressing matters to attend to
"Listen, Mike ..." the PM might
have said. "I want to know how
you did it. You guys seemed to be
even less popular than us, but you
managed to hang on to government.
How did you do it?"
"It s in the margins, Julia. All in
the margins," the Premier might
And he s right.
Labor won the March state
election with less than half the
While there were large swings
against Mr Rann and his ministers,
many of whom have worn out
their welcome with the electorate,
most of the party s marginal seat
holders managed to cling on. Two
of them, Tony Piccolo in Light and
Leon Bignell in Mawson, actually
managed to increase their margins.
So how did they do it?
Labor s state secretary, Michael
Brown, is typically guarded.
"I wouldn t say we did anything
particularly ... we just did what
you should be doing, I guess, in
campaigning. There s no magic art
A lot of money helps. And there
was no shortage of spending by
either side in March. But will that
"It s certainly the case that
having a state election and a federal
election in the same year, particu-
larly when you re fighting a very
close and hard-fought state election,
really does push your resources,"
says Mr Brown.
Over on Greenhill Road, the
Liberal Party s newly anointed
state director is learning the same
thing. Beverley Barber spent
the election as Isobel Redmond s
chief-of-staff. Having made the
conversion from top-office manager
to back-room player, she denies the
March result was below par.
"I think we campaigned well
in marginal seats, too," she
says. "Individual seats had their
individual issues, but I don t think
one or the other ran a stronger
marginal seat campaign."
Although the overall results
may show otherwise, there was
one figure which should give the
Liberals great hope.
In Adelaide, a high-profile female
minister was booted out with a
whopping 14.5 per cent swing.
Now those inside the Labor Party
may consider Jane Lomax-Smith
to be a very different proposition to
Federal Sport Minister Kate Ellis.
But Ellis holds the corresponding
federal seat by 8.5 per cent, and
things haven t exactly gone well for
Labor in the heart of Adelaide since
the Lomax-Smith demise.
The continuing saga surrounding
the Adelaide Oval has exhausted
any third-term cachet the Rann
Government might have with the
public, and Minister Ellis risks
being drawn into the mire.
Just this week, when presented
with the proposition of football
fans cars transforming the
manicured lawns of Pinky Flat into
a mudpit, she gave what can only
be described as a very diplomatic
response: "I would like to see a solu-
tion where we can see the parklands
not disturbed as much as possible in
No doubt she d also like a
solution where the voters are not
disturbed as much as possible!
The minister has been equally
coy about the prospect of federal
funding for the oval, and it will be
fascinating to see how Labor
decides to deal with this during
the campaign. An announcement
of cash from Kate Ellis and Julia
Gillard would send a strong sign
that a successful deal between
football and cricket is on its way.
Federal Labor would not want to
hitch itself to an inevitable loser.
It may choose to steer clear of the
project altogether, because -- let s
face it -- any mention of the oval is
simply a reminder of state Labor s
inability or unwillingness to be
open about the ballooning cost of
It s a sentiment the Liberals are
only too happy to tap into.
"I think the South Australian
people have had enough of the
Labor brand, in particular," says
That may be so, but the challenge
for the Liberals is channelling the
disaffection into actual support.
At the state poll, most voters who
swung away from Labor went to
the Liberals. But if the latest polls
can be believed, a large swathe of
voters annoyed with the Federal
Government is going to the Greens
-- not exactly a recipe for coalition
success. Nonetheless, the ads are
ready to roll, the volunteers are
ready to pounce and the smiling
mugshots of candidates alongside
Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard have
already been snapped.
As Labor s Michael Brown puts
it: "You re never as prepared as you
want to be -- but we ve got all of the
Nick Harmsen is the ABC's state
political reporter. Tom Richardson is
Liberal Party state
Barber : "We
Labor Party state
Brown: "You're never
as prepared as you
want to be."
TWU state secretary Alex Gallacher.
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