It seems apt to sign off the year on a positive note, but it feels hard to fish for positives in the final political chapter of 2013. So, in desperation, I turn yet again to the poetry of Clement Clarke Moore.
Some years back, I borrowed the verse below to bastardise for these pages; much, however, has changed in SA politics since then, not least the leaders of both the Labor Government and the Liberal Opposition.
I have noted before that in both we have politicians with the potential to be good and effective leaders. That is something not every jurisdiction can boast, so I suppose that is something worthy of cheer at this traditional time of celebration.
’Twas the week before Christmas, and all through SA
Not a creature was pond’ring the future of Jay.
The pollsters were cold-calling voters with care,
But of the pending election, few were aware.
Backbenchers were nestled in tenuous seats,
With visions of somehow avoiding defeats.
And Jay with his constant “Save Holden” refrain,
Had just steeled his resolve for a lengthy campaign.
When out of Detroit there arose such a clatter,
It wasn’t a stretch to see what was the matter.
Away to the capital he flew like a flash,
Tore strips off the PM, demanding more cash
The zeal of the newly-elected Coalition
Gave short-shrift to Jay, and a snort of derision.
And finally answered his fevered appeal,
With a sixty mil share of a new funding deal.
While Jay was nonplussed by the transition parcel,
There wasn’t a bad word to come from Steve Marshall.
United(ish) with him, his colleagues they came,
And he simpered and smirked, as he called them by name!
“Now, Vickie! now, Iain! now, Issie and Marty!
On, Ridgey! On, Lucas! Let’s rebuild the party!
And if anyone asks when a policy’s due;
Just tell ‘em we’ll wait for the budget review!”
So up the Libs’ ratings approvals, they flew,
With the vague feelgood pledges, and Steve Marshall too.
A bundle of leaflets that talked up their man,
Speaking glibly, po-faced, of his new five-point plan.
He’s backing in business, investing in youth,
And cutting down costs for those long in the tooth.
He’ll build projects while cutting down Government waste,
But of just how he’ll fund it, there’s barely a trace.
And then, in a twinkling, the election drew near
Not a great time for auto jobs to disappear
Labor pulled in its head, keen to turn things around,
With a half-open footbridge and new football ground.
And such was the largesse in every direction,
It hoped all would think naught of its lax child protection.
So Steven and Jay pulled their plans off the shelf,
And I laughed when I read them, in spite of myself.
Strong words will be spoken as they get to their work,
Shaking hands, kissing babies… (Clive Palmer would twerk!)
The shallow display of campaigns in full swing,
Is an awesome, yet dreary and terrible thing,
For the choice, if we’re honest and not prone to fibs,
Is ‘tween tired old Labor and small-target Libs.
But despite all the strain on the worn public purse,
“Happy Christmas to all, for it all could be worse!”
Tom Richardson is InDaily’s political commentator and Channel Nine’s state political reporter.
He his column will return on Friday, 10 January.
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