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The Independent Weekly
July 30 - August 5, 2010
Matthew Pantelis, news editor,
Last week I wrote that the PM s
campaign must have been seeing
red when Kevin Rudd made his first
campaign appearance, resulting in
at least one news network abandon-
ing a live broadcast of a Julia
Gillard speech. One can only image
the hue on Tuesday as staffers dealt
with the damaging leak that the
then-deputy PM had doubts about
paid parental leave and an increase
in the aged pension.
Although it took until day 18 of
the campaign for the Prime Minister
to visit her home town, Adelaide can
lay claim to the most dramatic day
of the election campaign so far. The
alleged Labor leak forced Ms Gillard
on to the front foot at a media
conference shortly after she arrived
early Wednesday morning and she
stayed on her feet for her first street
walk of the campaign at Mitcham.
It s very safe territory, given it is
where Ms Gillard grew up -- locals
feel they know her.
Despite easily holding off the
Nicole Cornes challenge three
years ago, local Liberal member
Andrew Southcott may find himself
campaigning against both his ALP
challenger, Annabel Digance, and
Associate Professor Haydon
Manning, head of Department
of Politics and Public Policy,
To see prime ministerial aspirants
embrace, to be crude about it,
"Green Hansonism" on the popula-
tion growth-immigration nexus
is uninspiring. So is Gillard and
Abbott s recoil from putting a price
on carbon any time soon.
"Small Australia" and small
moves on the carbon-reduction front
bode ill for these inexperienced and
highly stage-managed leaders. It
appears populism infests deeply the
national campaign and, with little
chance of its departure, a mature
debate entertaining nuclear power
is unlikely, which is regrettable.
Are vision, ideas and conviction
being driven from the souls of our
current party leaders? Is this due to
our living free from the economic
woes that dogged the 1970s, 1980s
and first half of the 1990s? Perhaps
herein lies an excuse, albeit a poor
one, for the campaign behaviour we
Wayne Errington, lecturer in
politics, University of Adelaide
The Liberals want you to know that
the Greens are extremists -- a hard
sell as long as Bob Brown presents a
moderate face to the public, not least
on tax policy.
Julia Gillard argued this week
that Coalition plans for increasing
tax on big business would force up
prices. The Greens, meanwhile,
want the rate to fall further than
Labor (in line with the original
mining tax plan), making the
Liberals extremist tag seem silly.
Tony Abbott has opted for confusion
over extremism, announcing he
would simultaneously raise and cut
With Green voters among the least
likely to slavishly follow a how-to-
vote card, why the fuss about Green
preferences? The seat of Sturt, not
included in the Labor-Greens deal,
is held by the Liberals by less than 1
per cent. Political strategists work
with very small margins and will
grab any advantage they can find.
"I don t know who she is, but I
wouldn t mind going out to dinner
with her! It s a rather spectacular
photo ... I ve got no problem with
people doing themselves up, but
some of those photos ... it s just, I
don t know, it s not the same lady I
get in the lift with."
-- Barnaby Joyce on Julia Gillard's Women s
Weekly photo shoot
"Decisions about me getting mar-
could make that point."
-- Julia Gillard after being questioned about
whether she plans to marry partner Tim
"To somehow excuse discrimina-
tion ... on the basis of culture or
heritage -- are we going to bring
back in hanging?"
-- Greens leader Bob Brown responds to
Senator Penny Wong's comments about
"I fully expect that if we get into
government (Treasurer) Wayne
Swan will leave me with a note
saying, Sorry there s nothing left ."
-- Opposition treasury spokesman Joe
Hockey, possibly inspired by a note left by
the chief secretary to the British for his
successor, saying: "I'm afraid there is no
she said ...
The potato crop on Ian Zadow s
farm in the Riverland is look-
ing slightly better this year. But
he s furious the Murray-Darling
basin plan hasn t been released
and he s worried no major party is
talking about water.
Kerry McCue s bakery in Murray
Bridge is famous for its savoury
slice. A small business owner, she
says she s been hit with higher
company tax, payroll tax and a
confusing award wage system since
Labor came into Government.
Towards the sea, the native
congolli fish have been allowed
through Lock 1 to escape extinction
and mate in the Coorong for the first
time in three years.
Down in the south-east, dairy
farmer Graeme Hamilton is just
worried about the economy. "We
aren t part of the Murray Darling
Basin, so federally there s not much
they can do for us, but I think sound
economics and rational thinking
play a greater role."
In Mount Gambier, bio-organic
farmer David Clayfield is
disgruntled with his local Liberal
MP, Patrick Secker. He wants the
pine-tree plantations ripped out and
says he s fed up with having a "seat
warmer as a politician".
It takes more than five hours
to drive from Renmark to Mount
Gambier, but this blue-ribbon
territory edging the Victorian and
NSW borders makes up the federal
seat of Barker. It s bigger than
Tasmania, and the incumbent of
12 years Mr Secker says he travels
about 300km in his average working
day, visiting constituents including
small-business owners, irrigators,
winemakers and dairy farmers.
Despite holding a margin of 9.5 per
cent, making it the safest Liberal
seat in SA, Mr Secker refused to
call Barker a safe seat -- and he s
got good reason. People here are
"The basin plan needs to be fully
discussed. You need water for criti-
cal human needs; next important is
environment and then, finally, what
is left is to grow food, but population
and all that is a side issue if you
can t feed and water them," Mr
"If the representative can t get
heard at government level, then
who do you blame? I don t think
there s enough effort on both sides."
Dairy farmers representative Mr
Hamilton is reluctant to support
his local MP. "Whenever we ve
approached him he s had a ready
ear to listen ... but you could always
say you d rather have a person with
this or that other quality."
But constituents looking for
change feel they are stuck in a safe
seat. No independent or nationals
candidate has registered, and in
the second week of the election
campaign the Labor candidate
remains an unknown outside her
hometown of Mount Gambier.
Her name is Simone McDonell.
She s a 23-year-old studying
economics and education at
Ms McDonell said her age and
"what is classed as a lack of experi-
ence" could work in her favour.
But having campaigned only in
the south-east so far, Ms McDonell
has just three weeks to convince the
rest of Barker that she is the strong
alternative candidate many voters
are searching for.
"I am disappointed Labor
has chosen not to take this seat
seriously," said Mr Secker.
So, too, are his constituents.
The sun sets over the wharf at
Port Adelaide and the political
gunslingers line up to take their
shots at glory.
Mark Butler draws fast and
shoots from the hip, but his bullet
only hits air.
There are no opponents in sight.
Mr Butler is a Labor man -- the
sitting member in the electorate
of Port Adelaide -- and the other
candidates are so far behind he
can t even see them on the horizon.
Sitting comfortably ahead on
a margin of almost 20 per cent,
Mr Butler has the working-class
electorate safely held, but he
"This is my first term and I don t
know how people are going to
vote come August 21," he told The
Of course, voters have a choice.
The Liberals are offering Nigel
Mr McKenna lives in the elector-
ate and is the kind of hard-working
family man that political parties
consider infinitely saleable. The
self-employed painter and decora-
tor has two young children, a wife
and a broad range of interests.
This is hard to confirm, though,
as his mobile phone has been
turned off since Monday night
and not even the Liberal Party
campaign office can offer more
He appears to be missing in
action. But then again, so is
Mark Butler. On Monday and
Tuesday, Mr Butler, who is also
the Parliamentary secretary for
health, was campaigning for Labor
in NSW. On Wednesday, he was
back in SA, but not in the Port
Adelaide electorate. Instead he
was in Kingston helping Labor
candidate Amanda Rishworth
with her campaign.
If it wasn t for the big posters
stuck on stobie poles from Findon
all the way out to the industrial
Buckland Park, voters might not
even know there was an election.
Mayor of Port Adelaide Gary
Johanson said people in his area
were the kind who would "give
you the shirt off their back" and
what they want from politicians
are things such as lights on the
Alberton Oval and a long-term
masterplan for development in the
area. He said Mr Butler had been
a supportive and easily accessible
"Although you re away in
Canberra a lot, and I ve been away
a bit more in the last 12 months
doing my health job, I do work hard
to stay in touch with people and
to advocate a range of different
issues for the community," Mr
He s certainly easier to get in
touch with than his rival.
"Thank you for calling Nigel
McKenna. The Liberal candidate
for the seat of Port Adelaide.
Please leave your name and
number and I ll return your call
as soon as possible," says Mr
McKenna s voicemail.
Stuck with the blues
Bio-farmer David Clayfield: looking for an alternative in the safest Liberal seat.
Last week we looked at South Australia's two most marginal seats. This week we
examine the state's safest Liberal and Labor seats.
Missing in action
Mark Butler: Speaking to voters -- in
someone else s electorate.
Photo: Kate Elmes
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