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SA state election: checks & balances « Previous | |Next »
March 18, 2006

I've just voted in the SA state election: --for the ALP's Jane Lomax Smith in the seat of Adelaide in the House of Assembly. And then for No Pokies Nick Xenophon, the Greens and the Australian Democrats in the Legislative Council. My central concern is the balance of power in the Legislative Council. We South Australians should be worried about what happens to the Legislative Council, if we are worried about democracy.

The media see it as a race to the line:


In these terms it is a lay down misere for the Rann Government to be returned in its own right in South Australia (still a 5% swing to the ALP say the polls), and for the Australian Democrats to lose both seats in the Legislative Council. So it is a question of ensuring that the balance of power in the Legislative Council lies with the left-of-centre social democrats as much as possible. I do not want Family First holding the balance of power--which is what the ALP prefers, if it cannot win the Legislative Council its own right. It does look as if this 2006 election will reinforce the shift in the political landscape away from the Democrats as a third force to Family First.

What annoys me is not the race per se but the tactics. The right wing ALP is preferencing the Shooters Party ahead of the 'give it a go' Nick Xenophon who has the interests of vulnerable South Australians at heart. This tactic indicates that the Rann ALP desires no constraints on their power.

And the election?

Buiness may be onside with the Rann Government, but the money paid into the River Murray Levy by citizens has not been translated into extra environmental flows. The River Murray has disappeared as an issue in this election--its more about the economy, private sector wealth creation, past achievements and promises galore on hospitals. The silence on the environment reflects the way the Rann Government has gone very quiet on water reform. It is dragging its heels, and deserves to be penalized by the National Water Commission in national competition payments.

Still, media slick populist Rann deserves to be returned for another 4 years, given his past performance. He has the self-seeking factions and their white bread politicians under control and is open to divergent groups in civil society. The Liberals really are a hopeless lot and, even though a socially and economically conservative Rann Government is but a pale alternative to the Liberals, Rann has done enough to be given the opportunity to govern in his own right in the House of Assembly.

But a law and order ALP state government, full of petrol heads and censors, sure does need to have some checks and balances on its power. It plans to abolish the Legislative Council, as is demanded by Business SA. Executive dominance is what is being sought by the Rann Government. That is the real battle line isn't it. Not the race to the line.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:03 AM | | Comments (2)


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