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Campaign Diary: take-away, stay-away and stop


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The dirt’s flying fast and furious in as the election campaign countdown clock passes into the final nine days.

Labor’s Tom Koutsantonis got value for money when he ordered take-away from Wok In A Box, the Libs copped a slap from the Electoral Commissioner and safe-seat voters were again snubbed by a candidate with no chance of victory.

Koutsantonis flew a kite yesterday when he gave media information that Liberal Leader Steven Marshall once had shares in a company that once owned some Wok In A Box fast food franchises.

There was no smoking gun, just Koutantonis asking “why is he being so secretive?”.

That was enough, however, for several outlets to run with the story. Channel Seven and ABC television gave it a run and today ABC Radio had Koutsantonis in their studio to blow some more smoke.

Marshall should have contained the story yesterday; he does, however, have a bad habit of walking away from press conferences and TV cameras and that’s never a good look.

He eventually fronted up on ABC radio to explain that in 2004 he “had a share in a company which purchased two (Wok In A Box outlets), built four more and we sold them”.

“Five of the outlets remain, they employ many South Australians.”

Koutsantonis was asked by presenters Matt Abraham and David Bevan if he had anything beyond a fishing expedition; he didn’t.

Abraham then squared the ledger by reminding listeners that the former Road Safety Minister himself had been less than forthcoming in the past, being forced by the Sunday Mail in 2009 to admit to around 60 speeding and traffic offences.

For good measure, Abraham threw in the Family First T-Shirt impersonations of 2010 and recent claims that Labor was making calls to voters attacking Senator Nick Xenophon.

By the end of the 15 minute segment, we again felt like we had to wash our hands.

Over on FIVEaa, brekkie presenter David Penberthy had the Wok In A Box story back to front, telling listeners that Marshall had failed to declare the WIAB interest in the Members of Parliament Register of Interests.

Marshall had already explained the day before that his interest in the business had concluded before he entered parliament, and therefore there would be no requirement to declare it.

The Electoral Commission, meanwhile, has asked the Liberal Party to cleanse itself of an anti-Jay Weatherill ad, promoted by an independent candidate but authorised by the Liberal’s State Director.

Melita Calone, a parent whose child attended the western suburbs school where the handling of a rape case sparked the Debelle Royal Commission, is running in the seat of Lee as an independent.

Her radio ad, which appears to link the Premier Jay Weatherill with key failures in the case, has been pulled by order of the Electoral Commission, which pointed out that the ad’s claims were contrary to the findings of the Debelle Royal Commission.

Today, the Premier threatened legal action, although it’s not clear if the action will be against the mother, the Liberal Party or the radio stations that carried the ad.

“This is a new low in South Australian politics,” Weatherill said.

Again, we headed to the hand-sanitiser dispenser.

More polling surfaced late yesterday and it contained bad news for Labor’s hopes in the seat of Adelaide.

The Advertiser/Galaxy poll has the Liberals leading 54/46 and, remarkably, with a primary vote of almost 50 per cent.

It’s one of the key marginal seats where Labor is spending much time, money and effort.

Not far away, in the Adelaide Hills, it’s the opposite with the ALP candidate openly absent.

The Blackwood/Belair District Community Association has been holding “Meet The Candidate” nights for the seats of Davenport and Waite.

The seats are both safe Liberal; nevertheless, candidates from the Greens, Dignity4Disabled and some Upper House minor party candidates took the chance to talk to the locals who turned out at Belair’s Uniting Church.

Labor’s candidate in Waite, Rebekah Huppatz, however, sent a written note and asked association secretary Heather Beckman to read it out.

Huppatz was stuck at work in Canberra, the note said, and she “couldn’t get away”.

“It was disappointing with neither Labor nor the Family First candidate turning up; it’s for the community’s benefit,” Beckman said.

When InDaily caught up with Huppatz she was still in Canberra, working for Federal MP Amanda Rishworth.

“I’ll continue to work right through the election,” she said.

“Some of us have to work for a living.

“If you have any issues you want to raise there’s a mobile phone number and a campaign email address.”

Political analyst Professor Clem Mcintyre says that while there’s a convention that candidates employed by the Crown take leave in the lead-up to a campaign and “certainly during the formal campaign”, it’s not enough to disqualify a candidate.

The Electoral Act indicates that in the event that a public sector employee looks like winning an election they have right up until the moment before the declaration of the poll result to resign their position.

If they don’t their election is declared invalid.

Labor’s State Secretary Reggie Martin hasn’t responded to InDaily’s query Rebekah Huppatz’s decision to stay in Canberra.

We are also still waiting for word on when the Liberal Party will have its official campaign launch.

Word has it that Sunday is the day most likely; which is a bit like the AFL having its season launch on Brownlow Medal night.

In the meantime keep your hand sanitiser close handy – the next nine days will be very willing.

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