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Campaign Diary: Jack's known unknowns


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The analytical skill of former United States Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has found its way into the South Australian State Election campaign as Treasurer Jack Snelling deals with known unknowns.

And in a late twist, the Opposition may have broken the all time speed record for Cabinet document leaks.

First, it was in December 2002 that Rumsfeld gave this classic response to journalists regarding a lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Snelling responded today to a report in The Australian that the government has been hit with multiple claims for contamination costs at its new $3 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital site. The development consortium yesterday told The Australian that the state government and the joint venture contractor for the project would share the cost of the claims that are understood to total about $100 million.

Snelling confirmed today that there were 22 separate claims where the consortium was seeking to establish “unknown contamination”.

If they are “unknown”, then the state government is required to pay 80 per cent of the remediation bill.

Snelling maintains the consortium would have known about the unknowns: “It’s about the extent to which the consortium would have known about contamination from the results of drilling we supplied them,” he said.

The Australian’s Sarah Martin, who broke the remediation story, told FIVEaa the issue would boil down to the “known unknowns”.

We hope that’s cleared that up.

Martin also gave a behind-the-scenes insight that would have sent tremors through the Labor Party campaign office, revealing that the Liberals had a pile of leaked documents still to come.

It followed discussion of yesterday’s yarn that a leaked Cabinet document showed a $212 million blowout in the state’s debt levels.

“They (the Liberals) have a decent pile of leaks that they will continue to roll out,” she said.

“They call them ‘stoppers’ where they stop the government from their planned campaign day.”

The first of them was rolled out today as a quick stopper to a state government mining announcement.

The document reveals that the Government plans to build a $32 million State Drill Core Reference Library at Tonsley Park, part of Mining Minister Ton Koutsantonis’s “Next Generation of Wealth” mining industry policy.

The centre is proposed to be funded by sales of several current sites that store drill cores.

Within minutes of Koutsantonis and Premier Jay Weatherill advising media that they would be making a mining announcement at 11am (at the drill core library in Glenside), the Liberals pushed out a Treasury and Finance ‘advice to Cabinet’ document that warned of several risks with the project’s funding.

“Other than the $15 million adverse Budget impact, the key risk is the achievement of revenue from land sales as two of the sites are in regional areas and the Thebarton property has some contamination,” the advice said.

The substance of the leak is damning; but the speed of it is astonishing.

Cabinet doc3

Back on the streets of Adelaide, meanwhile, and InDaily has been able to confirm a story we’d been told of an upmarket method of door-knocking.

A reader told us he had been door-knocked by a “Young Labor type” who told him he was doing the rounds to ask people to vote for David O’Loughlin in Adelaide and that if the constituent so desired, “you can meet David, he’s sitting in a car further down the road”.

O’Loughlin confirmed the mass door-knock, adding , however, he wasn’t ‘sitting in a car’, but was with his team, doorknocking.

“We had a big day on Sunday where we had a team of about 10 who knocked on people’s doors and if the voter wanted to have a further conversation about an issue, then I was available to do that,” he told InDaily.

“If they wanted a conversation, the supporters told them I was further down the street.

“It was a big day, a mass door knock.”

InDaily asked if many voters had taken up the offer; “not many,” he said.


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