Election 22 / 05 May 2022

South Australia and Boothby

South Australia – it’s the land of great wine, Coffin Bay oysters, and culinary icon Maggie Beer… It’s also home to a new Labor state government after an election in March. So let’s get into the state of play in SA this election and what seats we’re looking out for on election night.

That’s a lot of elections in a short period of time for South Australians… 
It sure is… 

Give me the recap.
The Marshall Government suffered a big defeat with Labor under new Premier Peter Malinauskas easily elected. Labor won 27 seats in the lower house – up from 19 seats. The Liberals retained 16 seats but lost 9. 

Why is that notable?
It was the first time in 40 years in the state that a government had been defeated after a single term. And before losing in 2018, South Australia had a Labor government for 16 years. 

So what happened?
There was a lot of analysis after that election about what the issues were that saw Labor win again – and those following it closely pointed to state issues. There had been infighting and turmoil in Marshall’s government, and weakness in the health system was an issue that Labor campaigned very strong on. Marshall also advocated for the opening up of the state and getting the economy moving just before the Omicron wave of COVID hit and thousands of South Australians were affected over Christmas. 

But weren’t people saying it was because PM Scott Morrison is unpopular in the state?
Some were… Morrison said that was a beat-up, that it was an election fought on those state issues. But there was a poll that was published by the Adelaide Advertiser that showed the PM’s unpopularity in South Australia was a drag on the Liberal state election vote. 

Who did the survey?
Good question. That survey was supplied to the Advertiser without the details naming the pollster or client, but it was seized upon and Labor had a field day with it in the wake of the Liberals’ defeat.

So were there any federal issues at play? 
Well, one issue that’s been bubbling away is the building of submarines…

What’s that about?
We’ve got a Squiz Shortcut on the ins and outs of that saga, but long story short, the subs Australia had agreed with French companies to build included building them in South Australia. So when Morrison ditched that deal and made a new deal for nuclear-powered subs with the US and UK, there was a lot of uncertainty about what that would mean for the state.

What does it mean for the state?
Morrison says South Australia will have a role in the construction of those subs and it’s a lot of jobs they’re talking about so, of course, many locals are keen to keep that project local…

OK, so that’s the vibe. What’s does it mean for this election?
When you look at what happened in the March state election, there were voters in inner Adelaide who backed Labor – and that’s given the analysts pause for thought in the federal seat of Boothby. 

Why is that a thing?
It’s notable because Boothby has been in Liberal hands since 1949, and it was a fairly safe seat until longtime MP Andrew Southcott retired in 2016. It was then won by Liberal Nicolle Flint.

How did she go in the last election?
In 2019, Flint won the seat with a 1.4% margin – it’s the Coalition’s 3rd most marginal seat. But this time, Flint won’t be their candidate.

Why not?
She’s getting out of politics and says there’s a culture in politics that she was not willing to put up with anymore. She was targetted by some ferocious campaigns against her at the last election and in her valedictory speech a few weeks ago, she said the parliament needed to better protect women from offensive, insulting and intimidating behaviour. 

Did she point any fingers? 
She took aim at the Labor Party and left-wing campaigners for the harassment and abuse she said she’s endured during her time in politics.

So Flint is out, who is the Liberals’ candidate?
It’s Dr Rachel Swift – she has a completing a doctorate in Clinical Medicine from the University of Oxford where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She’s been a management consultant with Boston Consulting Group and she’s worked with the United Nations on its Ebola response and other big projects in Africa. And in recent years, she returned to South Australia to launch her own health care consulting firm.

I’m assuming the next biggest challenger is from the Labor Party?
Well, they came in second on primary votes last time… Their candidate in this election is Louise Miller-Frost – she was the boss of South Australia’s St Vincent de Paul Society SA before quitting to run. Fun fact: she is the mother of triplet sons and has been step-mum to three step-sons.

That’s amazing. Is there anyone else we need to know about?
Jo Dyer is running as an independent. She’s had a career in the arts – Dyer working for the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Writers’ Festival and recently she’s been the Director of Adelaide Writers’ Week. 

How do I know her name?
She was a close friend of the woman who accused former Attorney-General Christian Porter of sexual assault, and she became like a spokeswoman for those lobbying for an inquiry into it. 

Are you sure she’s running?
She’s in the race by the skin of her teeth – there was a cloud over her eligibility due to questions about whether she was a dual citizen of the UK… That’s been resolved and she’s good to go.

The dual citizenship issue – what a gift that keeps on giving…
Isn’t it just.

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