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Campaign Diary: some fade gently away

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That was fun wasn’t it?

A 36-day rolling head-to-head debate that started out “gentlemanly” and ended acrimoniously.

When Business SA hosted the two major party leaders in a live debate on Thursday February 6, most thought it would be the first of two, maybe three times that Steven Marshall and Jay Weatherill would battle it out.

Instead, they graced almost every radio studio, TV station and newspaper outlet in a blow-for-blow stoush that’s centred on a hope for change versus fear of change.

By the end, they could barely look at each other.

Weatherill has characterised Marshall’s pitch as fakery and deceit; Marshall’s smile disappeared when he called Weatherill’s refusal to distance himself from the Habib leaflet as “disgusting and filthy”.

Their final joint appearance came at 8.30am on 891ABC, and their distaste for each other oozed through the radio.

By the end of today the two combatants will be exhausted.

Their campaign staff will be justified in seeking the solace of a bottle of shiraz at midnight tonight.

So, was there a “moment” that defined this election? A moment that, on reflection, the post-election analysts will see as the turning point?

Not really; that moment happened in 2012 and we’ll revisit it in our post-election analysis on Monday.

It’s time today, though, to reflect on the last campaign and how it played out.

It feels like a lifetime has passed since the last State Election.

Yet it was barely four years ago that Mike Rann was returned to power with deputy Kevin Foley and left-faction leader Pat Conlon.

John Hill was planning to build a new hospital and Chloe Fox was having a baby in one.

Emerging Right faction heavyweight Bernie Finnigan was re-elected in the Upper House.

Attorney-General Mick Atkinson was back – but said he’d only be around one more term and would move to the back bench.

Liberal Leader Isobel Redmond felt buoyed by the level of her overall vote, gathering just over 51 per cent of the vote.

A bloke called Steven Marshall won back the seat of Norwood for the Liberals.

A savvy businessman, he only got interested in state politics a few year’s prior.

One re-elected MP wasn’t happy.

Jay Weatherill blew off steam about the style of the Rann/Foley axis and openly challenged Foley for the deputy’s job.

The challenge was snuffed out.

Change didn’t happen at the ballot box in 2010 – but the state political landscape would soon look totally different.

Foley bowed out, Rann was pushed out, Finnigan got into strife, Conlon eased back and then out while Redmond bolted to the Adelaide Hills.

Atkinson changed his mind and stayed, becoming one of the best parliamentary speakers in decades.

John Rau and Jack Snelling stepped up the ministerial rankings.

Jay Weatherill re-emerged from his failed leadership tilt to take over the top job and Steven Marshall showed why the Liberals needed a genuine fresh face when he was unopposed to take over the vacant Leader’s job.

Change had been wrought, but not at the ballot box.

About the only similarity between election night 2010 and election night 2014 is that Mike Smithson, Tom Richardson, Nick Harmsen and Allan Murrell are still fronting TV cameras in the daily game of political reporting.

And there’s you, the voter.

Did you get what you wanted in 2010 and will you get what you want in 2014?

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