South Australia, home to the federal government-bashing Labor Party for the past 16 years switched to the Liberals last weekend. The Liberals will govern in their own right, having gained 24 seats, to Labor’s 16, with 3 seats to others and 2 still undecided.
South Australia had 264 candidates contesting 47 House of Assembly seats. 43 candidates contested the Legislative Council.
Before the election, Liberal leader Steven Marshall asked voters “Do we want to continue with more dysfunctional Labor government, or hit the reset button?”
South Australians heard his message and hit reset, giving Marshall the outright majority he wanted in the Assembly. Sadly the reset button wasn’t hit hard enough, and voters handed him a fractious Legislative Council that is set to frustrate his legislative agenda. Hopefully, he can negotiate his way through this problem.
There was a tussle all the way down to the wire with robocalls and spruiking posing as surveys late into the evening before the election.
Nick Xenophon and his SA Best team turned up the heat on the two major parties. He even created a corny “No Bull” campaign ad, which got people’s attention, but it was all for nought, in the Assembly, at least.
Marshall stared down the SA Best upstarts, telling voters that a vote for Xenophon was a vote for Labor. A clever liberal ad, which had people saying “I’ve had enough of Labor, Jan, and I’ve had enough of you,” seemed to be a winner.
Enough voters listened to Steven Marshall, and Nick Xenophon himself was crushed, beaten into third place by Liberal Vincent Tarzia.
Late on election night, premier, Jay Weatherill conceded defeat. Premier-elect, Marshall thanked him, and promised a new start for the state.
The minor parties didn’t win many seats, but they did soak up 30% of the votes. That should worry the two major parties. Xenophon’s SA Best and Cory Bernardi’s Conservatives are preparing for the long game.
The Liberals should have done better, because they benefited from a state-wide redistribution, but it wasn’t to be, as SA Best and the Conservatives soaked up votes.
Most of the pundits expected Liberals to win, mainly due to a series of Labor disasters including the Oakden debacle, long power outages, skyrocketing power prices and the hospital mess. The Labor government never owned up to any debacle it created, as it careened from one trainwreck to the next.
Now it is the Liberals’ turn. It remains to be seen how they will get their promises fulfilled, with the Legislative Council stacked against them.
Two things are a big improvement for sure. First, the Prime Minister will feel better talking to Steven Marshall than he ever did with Jay Weatherill. Second, South Australians will not have to put up with Jay Weatherill, the “Minister for Everything” and his constant squeaky voiced whining on the news every night.