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SA election « Previous | |Next »
February 21, 2006

When I flew into Adelaide from Melbourne late yesterday afternoon I noticed that the election posters were up on the electricity polls on the drive into the city. I drew the taxi driver's attention to them to start up a conversation, but he was indifferent. He had his probelms withe fees being charged by the company running the new Adelaide airport. At least the main road into the city was not a toll road.

The public mood is one of who cares? Apathy, disengagment and disenchantment are pervasive, and it is coupled to a withdrawal from civil society and civic participation. It is a politics of 'me' not of 'we'; one that dreams of McMansions, 4 wheel drives, large televisions and overseas trips to provide meaning in our lives.

The ALP is cruising to gain majority government for the first time since 1985 (on track to win 7 seven seats), whilst the Liberals are due to go backwards. So why bother? Who has faith in the system of state government to make our lives better?

It is hard to raise any enthusiasm for a right wing ALP government, whose slick feel-good spin is about leadership, the economy, paying off debt, and being tough on law and order; whilst ignoring a troubled health system, the mentally ill, the environment (sustainability) and urban living. They have little vision for the future of the state apart from economic growth, and little by way of policy. Social justice is but a distant memory. Today it has something to do with social exclusion. The 'you've never had it so good' spin is usually just a collection of soundbites.

SA is a better place than the 1990s when the State Bank disaster was a deadweight on economic activity and the cause of despair for the 1.5 million citizens. SA was depressed. Today it is more prosperous. But the small economy remains vulnerable. It does not have the mineral resources of a Queensland or a WA, and historically it's old economy was largely dependent on tariffs to protect its job-rich manufacturing industries. Today the decline in the car industry (Holden and Mitsubishi) is being counterbalanced by a strategy to make SA the nation's defence industry hub in the new economy. It is not a diversified economy.

For the moment Rann's ALP machine will keep things ticking over, and they are more competent than the dysfunctional Liberals. The only game in town for local citizens is to make sure theALP does not control the upper house, and so ensure there is some accountablity and check on the power of the machine men who have no time for the quality of life. Mark Latham pointed out in the Latham Diaries: that 'machine politics demands compliance, and those who step outside the system and voice their experiences and concerns are relentlessly targeted.' He says that 'dissidents and independent thinkers are systematicvally attacked and marginalised by factional bosses. What the power bosses cannot control they destroy.'

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:27 AM | | Comments (0)