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Campaign Diary: I'm not with stupid

Politics

In today’s Campaign Diary, Nick Xenophon gets close to a candidate that’s not in his party, Xenophon’s fellow travellers shout down questions about his own ridiculous ad, and a rundown of today’s promises – big and small.

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Stupid is as stupid does

Breaking the status quo, particularly in relation to health services, today brought together Nick Xenophon and former Labor MP, now independent, Frances Bedford.

In an unusual press conference outside Modbury Hospital to call for the restoration of a high dependency unit at the hospital, Xenophon and Bedford gave an insight into just how complicated the next parliament could be, should SA Best and independents hold the balance of power.

Xenophon isn’t standing a candidate against Bedford in Florey. He wants her to win, he declared again today.

Labor has long presumed they will be able to count on Bedford’s support in the next Parliament, but she came out with fighting words today.

When asked about the chances of her backing Labor, she replied: “Labor can’t rely on me to support them with anything that’s stupid.”

The stupidity in question is what Bedford says is a failure by the Government to listen to local people and local doctors about what’s happening at Modbury.

“I want to know why there are holes in the staffing, I want to know why there are mental health nurses without qualifications looking after our sick vulnerable people.”

When asked if she was a de facto SA Best candidate, she said: “Is Nick a de facto independent? What a stupid question.”

Are you closer to the Liberals on the Modbury Hospital issue, she was asked.

“I love the idea of what they’ve announced, particularly the thing about staff development and making sure the hospital is part of an integrated system that delivers the services that are needed by the community.”

On the question of broader policy positions, Bedford said she would judge each issue on its merits in the next Parliament – she wouldn’t be rubber-stamping anything.

Even Nick’s fellow travellers are sick of the ad

The press conference got weirder when one journalist wanted to shift focus from Modbury Hospital to Xenophon’s so-bad-it’s-good election ad.

The ad is deliberately awful – for the purposes of attracting thousands of free views and widespread distribution via mainstream and social media.

It’s worked, but supporters of the two candidates gathered around today were having none of it*.

The journalist who wanted to broach the topic was shouted down, with cries of exasperation. Which all seems rather ironic, given the issue was designed solely to attract attention.

Bedford, perhaps having mercy on the poor newshound, said she was disappointed not to be in the ad, but would be producing something of her own.

“I used to tap dance with Phyl Skinner,” she offered, referring to the legendary local entertainer.

Yeah, okay. Here’s the ad. Now we hate ourselves.

*Clarification: We reported originally that it was Xenophon candidates who shouted down the journalist, but it may have been Bedford supporters leading the charge – there was a general hubbub.

From bus stops to defence jobs

Today’s promises from the parties ranged from the micro to the macro.

Labor rolled out a renewable energy policy via it’s favoured news outlet, The Advertiser (again making a mockery of the Young Labor true believers who believe Murdoch is out to get them). You can read our take on that here.

Labor also promoted a less sexy $4.1 million commitment to upgrade and build up to 600 bus shelters across the state, to provide more comfortable facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities.

SA Best, with an eye on Adelaide Hills seats, expressed a desire to see the Amy Gillett Bikeway completed and linked to Mount Barker. The plan would see the cycling and walking track linking Mount Barker through to Oakbank, via Littlehampton and Balhannah.

The Liberals’ sights were set a little higher, announcing a “comprehensive Defence Workforce Plan” to capitalise on the multi-billion-dollar naval shipbuilding program.

The plan includes funding 1200 apprenticeships and developing an accredited Diploma of Naval Shipbuilding course.

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