March 15, 2014
The mainstream media says that it is foregone conclusion. After 12 years of a Labor Government voters in SA want change and a new majority Liberal Govt. With Tasmania going Liberal it will be Liberal Governments everywhere in the Australian federation except in the ACT. Public polling indicates that the Liberals will win the election in SA. So this election is done and dusted.
In digging a bit deeper we find that what is certain is that Labor will lose some of its 11 marginal seats that it managed to sandbag in the last election in 2010 and retain by less than 5%. The key question is how many marginal seats will it lose, given that the Liberals are expected to win Mount Gambier from independent Don Pegler. A net loss of 3-5 Labor seats to the Liberals would lead to a hung parliament. If the Liberals win 6 seats they will be able to form government in their own right.
Labor's primary vote is low---it's around 37% in metropolitan Adelaide, down from 43% in 2010. As always it needs Green preferences to survive. The Canberra Press Gallery narrative is that the swing to the Liberals appears to be higher in Adelaide, giving the Liberal party a good chances of cleaning out some Labor's marginals with a 2PP that otherwise would probably not be enough. What is interesting is how the ALP in SA is not facing a Tasmanian style wipeout even after 12 years in power.
With Newspoll indicating a late swing to the ALP, we are probably heading for a close result and, possibly, a hung Parliament.The Liberals will concentrate on Tasmania as they can write their "Greens are finished" rhetoric, and that Labor needs to burn every connection to the anti-business, anti-reason Greens, who are dreamers not doers.
The Weatherall Labor Government has defended its economic interventionist in opposition to the Marshall Liberal Party's free market economics of small government + low taxes, which implies a radical program of public sector cuts. Who ever wins, the new government will have to face the consequences of the collapse of the Australian automotive industry, on-going de-industrialization, the end of the low-cost model of South Australian economic development, high unemployment and the Olympic Dam project staying on the back burner.
That history, and the fear of an economy in decline and the return of the spectre of a ''rust-belt'' state, means that developing a new growth strategy is a policy imperative. Although how to do this is a key issue facing SA, unsurprisingly, this was not a main issue in the election campaign, given the high Australian dollar and the low cost manufacturing in Asia. However, the pathway is clear--SA must develop a knowledge based economy:
A smart growth strategy is needed in Australia, one that better harnesses the very considerable talents available in our universities and creates new and very agile institutions capable of driving successful knowledge transfer, innovation and commercialisation.Researchers working with industry in both advancing and applying knowledge are easier said than done. We underinvest in this and urgently need to create a network of industry innovation centres to fill the gap.
How will this happen in Adelaide? What are the possibilities?
The politicians didn't say that much during the election campaign. Neither did the Canberra Media Gallery. The latter see that as policy and they are more interested in the details of horse race politics. So all we have are gestures about high tech manufacturing, food exports, branding, bio-tech innovation and opportunities for universities. These gestures are summed up by 'smart city'.
It was not a night of celebration for the Liberals in South Australia as they'd expected, despite their win of about 52.5-47.5 on two-party preferred vote. The public voted Liberal but they are not getting a Liberal government. Just like the last election in 2010. The problem with the disconnect between the popular vote and the seats is that the Liberals have consistently massive majorities in rural seats and they have lost seats to Independents.
The Liberals needed six seats to win government, and they only clearly won two from Labor (Bright and Hartley) and one from an independent (Mount Gambier). However, it does look as if late-count rehearsals will add Mitchell to that list.
Though Labor can yet get to a majority if they can hold on to Mitchell, that is unlikely. The most likely result at this stage appears to be a hung parliament, and it will be the two returned independents, Geoff Brock in Frome and Bob Such in Fisher, who will decide the issue.