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Campaign Diary: Squirming on North Terrace


In today’s Campaign Diary, the Liberals quietly crush some dreams along the Torrens, bookies predict post-election chaos and one person’s fun is another’s doggerel.

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Bitten lips

Steven Marshall’s Liberals have caused some buttock clenching across the CBD this week after pledging to dump a couple of key boards and running interference on the cherished plans of a couple of key city institutions.

Marshall has vowed to get rid of the Economic Development Board, which is chock-full of heavy-hitting locals in business, government and education, and the Riverbank Authority, less chock-full but still influential around town.

He has also revealed a new plan for the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site which, while broadly in line with Labor’s concepts, took a range of cultural institutions by surprise – and not in a pleasant way.

Marshall’s plan to create a “national” gallery for indigenous arts and culture seems to gazump Art Gallery director Nick Mitzevich’s long-held wish for a contemporary gallery for Adelaide, which is planned to include a significant indigenous component. While Marshall says a contemporary gallery could still be located on the site, budget realities seem likely to either delay or kill off the concept. The Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute also has reason to be miffed – they’re only a few streets away from the old RAH and it’s not clear how they fit into the plan, if at all.

The Botanic Gardens, too, is now nervous about the two hectares of new space promised to it under Labor’s site concepts.

Marshall’s plan includes a potentially lovely series of ponds snaking between the current site and the gardens – but no apparent new space to expand.

When asked on ABC Radio Adelaide yesterday about whether his plan would give more space to the gardens, he said: “We’re creating a much better interface in the Botanic Gardens and this precinct, there will be more open space on this site … there is no specific amount in our plan to return to the parklands.”

That sounds like a “no”.

Leaders of institutions that rely on government money are unlikely to take public positions on the parties’ policies in the pre-election period.

In fact, some government-funded agencies are being extra cautious with just over two weeks left before the state election.

Earlier this week, the Centre of Democracy – part of the History Trust – posted the following notice on its Facebook page.

Sportsbet predicts… utter chaos

A former Labor man has pointed Campaign Diary to the Sportsbet odds for individual seats at the state election.

Breaking it down – as it stood earlier in the week – it shows that the online bookmaker expects an even split between the major parties with SA Best and a small collection of independents holding the balance of power.

It appears to be in line with the general political wisdom – that no major party will gain an outright minority (note: your diarist has strictly sworn off punditry for the duration).

Sportsbet has done a few weird things: it hasn’t included the rural seat of Stuart, but that is rolled gold safe Liberal.

Adding that to the blue column, the favourites break down to 20 Labor, 20 Liberal, three SA-Best (Finniss, Hartley, where Xenophon is running, and Heysen), with former Labor MP Frances Bedford clear favourite to win Florey, Geoff Brock also favoured in Frome, and former Liberals Duncan McFetridge and Troy Bell also tipped to win their seats.

Strangely for such a confusing contest, most of the favourites have clear air.

Adelaide is the one seat considered to be on a knife-edge, with incumbent Liberal MP Rachel Sanderson at $1.90 and Labor rival Jo Chapley on $1.95.

A dodgy snag

The Advertiser is trying to add some “fun” to its election coverage by creating an Instagram friendly stunt involving a “democracy sausage” dog.

The hound will be munching “wieners” from bowls marked with candidates’ names, in a harking back to “Paul the Octopus” who had some success in predicting winners at the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Paul didn’t have a happy end. Let’s hope Eva the democracy sausage dog has a more prosperous future.

The artillery falls silent

The parties have ceased the carpet-bombing of announcements today while the ICAC report into Oakden takes over the agenda – as it should.

It’s been a week of contrasts between the key protagonists.

Labor has continued its “big bang” approach, with multi-million-dollar promises to extend the tram network. SA-Best has been making a flurry of mostly micro announcements of interest to specific seats, while the Liberals have continued their softly-softly approach.

The latter strategy might prove to be canny: in a cynical political environment, could more sober promises attract less scepticism? Or will they just attract less attention?

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