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Election Live: Day 1


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Bad makeup, bouncing basketballs, high schoolers, showmen and professors – last night’s leaders debate had it all. Scroll down and read up to follow last night’s debate as it was blogged live by InDaily journalist Liam Mannix.

8.45am, Tuesday
Matt and Dave on ABC Breakfast are talking to Chris Uhlmann about last night’s debate.

He says the debate’s openness and lack of rules – allowing the two leaders to talk to each other, ask questions, interrupt – made it much better than the highly-scripted Federal debates.

More on last night’s debate – here’s the Australian’s political reporter Sarah Martin’s take (paywalled).

8.40am, Tuesday
Welcome to the morning of day two on the campaign trail. The leaders and journalists had a late night last night and might be slow to rise this morning. But one thing will make it easier for Steven Marshall to get out of bed today – last night’s Channel 7 ReachTel poll giving him a 55-45 lead over Labor.

The ReachTel poll of 1330 voters gave the Liberals a 55-45 lead after preferences were distributed.

“The poll also shows Steven Marshall is a staggering 17 points clear as preferred premier,” Channel 7 say.

“On the key battleground of economic trust, the Liberals are almost 20 percentage points clear.”

The Debate, Monday

8.38pm Monday The Crowd’s verdict
Read below for my analysis and a wrap of the debate – and, of course, check out InDaily tommorow for the full wrap and analysis from InDaily’s experts and commentators.

For now, here’s the instant reaction from the crowd:





8.28pm The wrapup
So, readers, who do you think won? Tell us in the comments below.

For me, I had Marshall on a narrow win – maybe even a scored draw. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly decisive, but Marshall’s performance was slightly superior – he was up, he was engaged, he was aggressive. And I think his speaking style is just better than Jay’s – more engaging, whereas the Premier sometimes sounds like he’s talking more to himself than anyone. A professorial style doesn’t help either.

On the issues, the biggest problem for Weatherill is – and always has been – his party’s 12 years in government. Even the best administration eventually builds up enough errors and failures over 12 years that they become a lead weight hanging around the shoulders; see, for example, Marshall’s easy criticism of Weatherill’s transport plan.

Marshall was the showman, Weatherill was the professor. Marshall played with the crowd, threw questions at Weatherill, interrupted, buttered up Uhlmann, had lots of sharp lines. Weatherill wanted to pick Marshall up on errors of fact and omission.

One attendee points out to me that Weatherill wanted to pick up the facts and get them right; Marshall has learned the skill of ignoring and dodging when he can’t win the issue. He simply doesn’t talk about the things he doesn’t want to talk about; when he gets picked up, he doesn’t argue a point endlessly – he moves on to the next quick win.

One thing I missed – Marshall said he’d take his kids interstate if he loses the election. Is that a commitment to resign if they don’t win?

Interesting point from one debate attendee. That isn’t unusual of televised debates, which often attract more engaged voters – who, in turn, ask more engaged questions. To the casual voter, I’m sure the parties will tell you, it’s always the economy, stupid. (Sidenote: I always wondered why the parties weren’t more interested in public transport, only to be told by a senior advisor that there are simply no votes in it. So there you go).

8.24pm Closing comments, gentlemen
Simple themes are spelled out

Weatherill: We need support from govt in the current transition. We have the record. I’ll stand up to Tony Abbott.
Marshall: We’re going background on almost every indicator – jobs, exports, education. Obviously, we’re going to fix that.

Also notable – Marshall butters up Uhlmann, telling him how much fun he’s had tonight. He clearly likes the ABC a lot more than Abbott.

Marshall and Weatherill talk question time – it’s actually a lot more civil than it looks, they agree. The whole thing ends with the two leaders staring, smiling, into each others’ eyes (across third-wheel Uhlmann). It’s very nice.

8.17pm Talkin’ Transport
Weatherill’s toughest sell here – Marshall only has to critique and criticize. Weatherill says there are disruptions, sure, but they’re because of the construction work needed to build a new transport network.

Marshall attacks him on his $36 billion transport plan – “it’s one thing to have a dream, it’s another to make actual changes”. The plan is, of course, future focused and the big spends contained in it are some way away from starting.

Well, says Weatherill, we’ve just announced an O-Bahn extension into the city.

“$160 million dollars for a 4 minute saving – that’s $40 million dollars a minute” says Marshall, to applause. Slick line, Steven.

8.14pm Marine Parks – remember that issue?

We’re talking marine parks. Marshall says he supports them, but has issues with the no-take zones. Weatherill makes his case for them – and then, to his surprise, gets a question from Marshall (who clearly isn’t content to leave that job to Uhlmann, who is actually being paid to ask the questions).

“Premier, what is the threat that fishing is posing to marine parks?”

“You obviously don’t understand marine parks”, says Weatherill, who argues fishers pollute marine parks – to applause.

Marshall trying to cut over the Premier again, but Jay’s stronger this time, finishes his answer fully before pulling up and letting Marshall in. Point Weatherill.

8.09pm No direct link between economic and population growth: Weatherill
The Premier hits one of this consistent ideas that our business lobbies like to promote – that population growth leads to economic growth. It’s not that simple, says the Premier – there’s no linear relationship. And while we’re at it, SA’s population growth rate isn’t as bad as people say; we’re up there with the best in the world. Just not the best in Australia.

8.07pm Don Dunstan mentions:1
You can’t talk politics in this state without someone invoking the memory of the Don, can you? Weatherill says there are many local leaders he aspires to be like – Don Dunstan, for example. Expect more mentions before the night is done.

8.01pm The leaders take a question on gender equality
Good question from someone in the audience for both leaders – why don’t you have more women in your parties, in your cabinets? Not sure who took the point on that – although Weatherill argues, not unfairly, that the last two safe seats to come up – Port Adelaide and Ramsey – both were given to female candidates.




7.58pm Weatherill getting pushed around by Marshall
Weatherill spruiking the successes of his education policy – only to have Marshall try to interrupt, and then succeed as Weatherill goes silent mid-sentence. You don’t see that often. Marshall argues education is going backward, and gets applause from the audience – cutting off Weatherill’s riposte. Applause finishes, and Uhlmann moves on to another topic. Point Marshall.

7.55pm More hand gestures
Weatherill uses a range of hand gestures to answer a question on education funding. The double point, the air point, the hands together, the two-handed waving shimmy (perhaps the highest degree of difficulty, that one).

7.47pm The Farrell Question!

Took long enough. Uhlmann asks Weatherill about Don Farrell’s abortive attempt at state parliament. Does that raises questions of leadership, asks Uhlmann. Who really runs the party – you, or the unions, Premier?

“Well, I think we might have dealt with that last week,” deadpans Weatherill

“surely that wasn’t leadership,” Marshall interjects.
“Threatening to resign isn’t leadership. you have people very high up in the party backgrounding journalists saying you’re a dead man walking.”

“I’m prepared to put everything on the line for what I believe”, answers Weatherill.

Well, says Uhlmann, what about your own back yard, Mr Marshall – your party is hardly the most unified.

“We’re one big happy family”, says Marshall – to widespread dismissive laughter from the live audience. Marshall’s been running that line a bit, but it comes off a bit lightweight – like he’s taking the mickey on his own party, just a little. And it’s a big issue.

7.42pmFew tweets around questioning how much makeup has been caked onto Steven Marshall’s face. Maybe it’s only from the TV – both leaders look fine live.



7.40pm Always interesting watching the hand gestures from the leaders. Weatherill bounces an invisible basketball with his left hand (not sure he’d make the team though, unfortunately). Marshall raises two hands in the air – the double-open-point, as it’s called. High degree of difficulty.

7.37pm Marshall talking about problems with SA’s population growth rate. Uhlmann asks him how he would fix it, which gives Marshall an opportunity to run through one of the areas where he has a detailed platform.

Weatherill, in reply, picks up on another alleged factual error.
“Half as many people are leaving as in the previous (Liberal) government. So once again, another factual error”.

7.34pm Weatherill quick to talk directly to Marshall – which is unusal for a debate. Hops into him for his claim that exports are falling – exports rising, says the Premier. That’s been a constant source of frustration for the Premier over the last few weeks, it would seem; he keeps picking Marshall up on what he believes are incorrect facts.

7.31pm Uhlmann sets the scene

“Who has the best plan for the hard years ahead”, asks tonight’s debate host Chris Uhlmann – citing Holden, Olympic Dam, falling revenues.

Weatherill and Marshall walk on stage and exchange what looks like a friendly-enough handshake. And we’re off.

7.28pm Poll has Liberals 55-45

7 News released the results of their Reach-Tel poll tonight, giving the Liberals a 55-45 lead. That’s in-line with the Advertiser’s earlier Newspoll, although Reach-Tell uses automated phone polling which is considered to have a significantly higher margin for error.

55-45, if consistent across the state on election night, would see the Liberals win around eight or nine seats.

7.23pm The Leaders’ Debate about to kick off

Your correspondent is in the audience – along with much of the press gallery – for tonight’s leaders debate on the ABC. Follow the live blog for all our updates.

Here’s the current scene. Interesting to note that it’s not a sell-out – for the one and only televised debate, is that a statement on our political process?


3.04pm Rail upgrades

Labor announces work will begin next month on upgrades of the Parafield and Broadmeadows stations on the Gawler rail line. Earlier today the Government said it would electrify the line to Salisbury – even without Federal Government money.

2.18pm Child protection on the agenda

Liberal leader Steven Marshall is promising a shake-up in child protection arrangements. He says he’ll move the child protection function out of the Education Department and put it back in a separate department. the move, he says, will allow Education to focus on academic outcomes.

1.56pm More on costings

Is this going to be the key debate of the day – what time period costings are meant to go over? I’m betting voters are not going to decide their vote based on an arcane technicality.

Press release from the Libs:
“Major costings embarrassment for Weatherill

“In a major embarrassment today, Premier and Treasurer Weatherill has revealed that he does not understand his government’s own costings.

“Mr Weatherill has attempted to criticise the State Liberals about a costings document covering the forward estimates period, when this is exactly what his own Labor Government did at the 2010 State Election.

“It’s extremely embarrassing that Premier and Treasurer Weatherill did not know that Labor’s own costings document was based over the forward estimates period,” said Shadow Treasurer Iain Evans.”

12.36pm The Democrats – the real Democrats

Remember the Australian Democrats, the party committed to keeping the bastards honest? InDaily does.
We rang to speak to someone from their office – just to find out what’s going on, really, and whether they’ll be running a candidate in this election – only to receive this answering machine message.

“You’ve reached the office of the Australian Democrats, the real Australian democrats. on the internet. If you wish to speak to a particular person you’ll find their number on our website – hopefully.”

Good to know we’ve found the real ones. Anyone know who the unreal Democrats are?

Update: is it possible we’ve now got two organisations claiming to be the real Democrats? Here is the national website – They have a twitter account, but it hasn’t tweeted since… July.

12.13 Transport spruiking

Jay Weatherill is out selling Labor’s transport infrastructure spending. Seaford rail services are promised to start this Sunday; Weatherill says the state is going it alone on funding the Gawler-Salisbury rail electrification.

11.58am The set of tonight’s big debate


11.26am Firefighters to protest outside Premier’s debate tonight

The Volunteer Fire Fighters & Cancer Risk Group are calling for CFS volunteers to show up, in uniform, outside the ABC’s Collinswood studio to call for better compensation arrangements for CFS firefighters afflicted by cancer.


Expect plenty of groups to be making plenty of noise in Collinswood tonight – not only will the pollies be there, but there’ll be plenty of media in attendance as well.

9.38am Here’s video (from the ABC) from last night’s Labor campaign launch. 

Premier Jay Weatherill refusing to provide detailed costings till later in the campaign, say the ABC. That’s become sort of de rigueur over the last few years, hasn’t it?

“Add em up, there’ll all just sitting there”, he said when asked about the costings.

The whole thing has a very American feel to it, including the legions of cheering acolytes on the floor (have a look at the reporter’s piece to camera as he’s surrounded by fervent supporters). Of course, we don’t do spectacle as well as the Yanks – no balloons falling from the ceiling (or Clint Eastwood talking to a chair).


9.06AM Xenophon wants Gillman land deal inquiry

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has called for bipartisan support for an immediate independent inquiry into the Gillman land deal.

Nigel McBride from Business SA says he also supports an inquiry.

InDaily has asked both sides of politics whether they’ll support an independent inquiry into the sale. From the Labor camp – negative. But is this issue reaching swinging voters?


8.45AM Apparent leak reveals Treasury advised against HP deal

We have  what appears to be a leak from the 10 February Cabinet meeting. An apparent summary of Treasury’s advice on Cabinet papers shows it didn’t support the Hewlett Packard deal announced last week. The document was given to the 891 presenters this morning by the Opposition, who then put it live on-air to the Premier.

The document appears to refer to a $5.5 million grant announced last week to the University of South Australia to set up a new Innovation and Collaboration Centre with computer giant HP. The document says Treasury advised against the deal due to a lack of business case and the increased risks to the state in providing the funding up front.

Weatherill: “We will support 430 new jobs coming into South Australia. I’ve never seen a document like that… that is not a document I’ve seen”. Marshall, who provided the apparent leak to 891, says it’s definitely a cabinet leak.

Weatherill refuses to say if Treasury supported the HP funding.

Here’s some more detail on the HP deal:


8.35AM Weatherill, Marshall go head to head on morning radio

The Premier and the Opposition Leader were both in the ABC 891 studio this morning.

The Premier put out his 200-odd page policy plan on the weekend; where’s yours Mr Marshall, the presenters asked? Well, to be fair most of the 200 pages are photos of Jay’s face, says Marshall.

Here’s a photo of the two Matt Abraham tweeted, featuring the Premier in a very natty checked wide checked tie.


The debate is getting quite nasty. Weatherill plays the smartest kid in the class; Marshall sniggers at everything he says.

Have a listen to the full debate here:

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