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Campaign Diary: Jumping the gun

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With some candidates sneaking election posters onto the state’s Stobie poles ahead of the official start of the campaign, InDaily has also decided to get in early with our first campaign diary entry. Campaign Diary will be a way for you to keep in touch with what’s going on – in front of the cameras and behind the scenes – throughout the election battle.

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In our first Campaign Diary for 2018, candidates breach the rules by putting up campaign posters early, the Australian Conservatives announce their lower house candidates, the State Government offers a big public transport sweetener, an election forum literally rings alarm bells, and we ask: What the hell is going on with the Repat?

Election candidates break corflute rules

The ABC is calling it “premature election”, in honour of the shenanigans in Canberra.

Liberal Party MP Rachel Sanderson, candidate Richard Harvey and Labor MP Tom Kenyon have all been busted on social media putting up electoral posters early, with the writs for the election to be issued tomorrow.

Newland MP Kenyon told InDaily he noticed his opponent Harvey jumping the gun at dawn this morning, and decided he couldn’t let the Liberal get all the best spots.

Both parties ceased and desisted after the council intervened.

The Local Government Association and the Electoral Commission have both confirmed state election signage can’t be affixed to roadside infrastructure owned by the State Government and SA Power Networks until 5pm today.

Under LGA Guidelines, councils are within their rights to remove the candidate corflutes.

Liberal Party State Director Sascha Meldrum said campaign volunteers had been made aware of the LGA guidelines.

“We rely on passionate volunteers, so if there have been a few over-enthusiastic volunteers who have put up posters early, where possible we have rectified the situation and asked that our volunteers wait until 5pm,” she said.

All election-related signage must be removed within 48 hours of the polls closing on March 17.

The Electoral Commission made it clear that any candidates putting up posters earlier than 5pm today were in breach of the rules.

Conservative candidates in 33 seats

The Australian Conservatives have had a change of heart, rolling out a total 33 candidates in the 47-seat lower house, after previously declaring they would only field “10 to 15”.

The former Family First party, now subsumed under the Australian Conservatives banner, ran in all but five House of Assembly seats in 2014, but Cory Bernardi’s new movement appeared to be taking a more low key approach this campaign.

However, state leader Dennis Hood said the party had been buoyed by “an extraordinary number of people coming forward”.

“It’s more than we’ve ever had in the past, which is encouraging I must say,” he told InDaily.

“We’ve taken time to vet the people, but we’re very happy with our high quality candidates right across SA, including the country regions.”

Interestingly, only 13 of the seats they’re contesting are current Liberal seats – given the Libs may well rely on preferences from the Conservatives with some tight finishes expected.

But the party’s presence could bolster the conservative vote in Labor-held seats targeted by SA Best, with Liberal-leaning voters looking to lodge a protest now having another avenue to do so.

“It’s no secret we’d prefer a conservative government and should there be a hung parliament and we have elected members in the lower house, we’ll favour a Liberal Government,” Hood said.

Of course, the Conservatives’ end-game is to see their lead Upper House candidate, parliamentary veteran Rob Brokenshire, re-elected – and a strong lower house campaign is generally regarded as an important part of bolstering a party’s Legislative Council showing.

“There are two options,” Brokenshire reasoned.

“We can put our focus on an Upper House campaign alone, which Xenophon has done up until now (in past elections) – or we can give people a good choice in both the lower and upper house.

“At the end of the day we’ve decided to stick with what we’ve done (in the past).”

May I see it? No.

Member for Adelaide Rachel Sanderson told a candidates’ forum at Town Hall this morning that the Liberal Party had a very fantastic plan for the Old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, but would not reveal anything about it.

“The Labor Government announced the hospital (move) 10 years ago and for 10 years they’ve failed to come up with a suitable plan for that site,” she said.

By contrast: “The Liberals do have a plan, which is a very exciting plan.”

“However, I will not be announcing that today – that is certainly not my role, to announce that plan.

“But it will be announced prior to the election, so that people can see it.

“I’m very pleased with it.

“It’s a very fantastic plan.

“I’m very, very happy with it.

“So stay tuned.”

Sanderson also informed the crowd that she thinks about her electors when she goes to sleep every night.

Having lived within the boundaries of the seat of Adelaide since 1983, she said: “I can imagine, in my mind, every street, every footpath.”

“And I imagine all of you sleeping, safely, in your beds at night, when I go to bed.

“As the member for Adelaide I see it as my role to make sure that you are all safe (and) that you all have the ability to have a job.”

Earlier in the morning, the 200-strong crowd, Sanderson and the other candidates – Labor’s Jo Chapley, the Greens’s Robert Simms and Dignity Party candidate Betty-Jean Price – were forced to evacuate Town Hall.

A fire alarm had gone off during Chapley’s opening speech.

Labor promises cheaper public transport fares

Labor has announced it will drop the price of the 28-day unlimited travel pass, and introduce a new 14-day unlimited travel pass to save public transport users up to $306 each year.

The Government insists the new fares will come into effect on April 3 regardless of the outcome of the election, making South Australia the cheapest state in Australia for public transport.

The 28-day full-fare will drop from $124.50 to $99 – saving commuters $25.50.

The 14-day full-fare will cost $60.

Primary school groups will also get free off-peak travel on the Adelaide Metro network when travelling for school excursions.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee?

The future of the Repat site is likely to be a hot political issue in the southern suburbs, but voters are likely to be scratching their heads after a forensic examination of the issue by the ABC’s David Bevan today.

He asked Health Minister Peter Malinauskas about the status of a masterplan being developed for the site by private health provider ACH.

Malinauskas said he had seen an “iteration” of a proposed masterplan, but that a final version would not be ready for him to take to the community for consultation before the election (due to the caretaker period beginning imminently).

Bevan asked whether the deal would fall through if the Government refused to sign off on a masterplan. The Minister answered: “Yes.”

Malinauskas said the masterplan had to be in keeping with the principles the government had outlined, including that it includes a “health precinct”.

Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade then made his appearance, with Bevan asking him the obvious question that, given all that had gone before: “should you win the election, if you want to, you can kill off the sale of the Daw Park Repat – what will you do?”

Wade eyed the full toss and was comprehensively clean bowled.

“We’re determined to deliver a health precinct on that site whether that’s in partnership with ACH or another party,” he said. “That’s a matter to be seen, but I think it’s very important for the sake of this election campaign that ACH releases the draft masterplan and the Government and the Opposition will have the opportunity to indicate to what extent it complies with their intentions.”

Bevan observed, quite reasonably, that the difference between the parties was “just a variation on a theme”.

– Reporting by David Washington, Tom Richardson, Bension Siebert and Stephanie Richards

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