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Richardson: Simply the best of the worst

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South Australians do love to be the best at things. Even if that means being the best at being the worst.

Not all things, of course. There are some things at which we know we’ll never excel on a national, let alone world, stage.

Most populous capital, for instance. Australia’s fastest-paced city centre. Most reliable public transport system.

None of these are accolades that are in danger of coming our way any time soon, helping to put us on the proverbial map (we are, notably and to our great credit, on the literal map, even if few in the world know exactly where to locate us – a longstanding failing sure to be remedied by our helpfully demonstrative new state logo).

Thus, then, we are forced to embrace rather more esoteric and (some might argue) more egregious achievements.

The murder capital of the world, for instance (variously translated as the “serial killer capital” and the “bizarre crime capital”, but nonetheless an oft-boasted achievement).

The “driest state in the driest continent” is another epithet we wear with undeniable (and somewhat unjustifiable) pride.

I imagine South Australian tourists visiting, say, sub-Saharan Africa and telling whatever locals they find that they’ve come all the way from the driest state in the driest continent, and reveling in the sympathetic nods and charitable embraces.

… he’d consented to be interviewed for radio wearing bathers and an inflatable tube while sitting in a public swimming pool, so subtlety is perhaps not going to be a feature of the Liberal campaign.

Imagine our collective excitement then when a scrupulous local hack noticed that the United Nations World Meteorological Organisation’s global report predicted Adelaide’s Thursday temperature would be the highest of any major population centre. Or, as it quickly became known, Adelaide was the Hottest City On Earth.

The logical extrapolation was similar to Paul Keating’s when his coveted EuroMoney Finance Minister of the Year award was swiftly (and personally) translated into the World’s Greatest Treasurer. No wonder he was so miffed when the underwhelming Wayne Swan received the same accolade (with far less fanfare) a mere 27 years later.

And no doubt many Adelaideans felt a pang of self-flagellating disappointment when yesterday’s forecast top of 46C fell short by more than one whole degree, to see us finish in a tie with (of all things) Melbourne!  Realising we’d potentially missed out on the illustrious world-beating accolade, while in some ways a blessing, was also a bit of a downer – not unlike the deflating realization that our notionally kill-happy little metropolis doesn’t even make Wikipedia’s TOP FIFTY list of the world’s most deadly cities.

At least, we collectively muse, at least today’s top of 40C has been revised up to 42C, so we won’t get the usual let-down of having the final day of our cherished heatwave dip below the forecast forty degree psychological barrier, robbing us of some significant historical milestone. The third-hottest week since records began, say. Or the longest continuous stretch of days above 40C. The good news is that climate scientists reckon these extreme weather conditions (heretofore known as “summer”) will be more or less an annual occurrence, giving us another chance to break our own “hottest city in the world” record again next year.

Fortunately by then what is now known colloquially as the World’s Most Downbeat Election Campaign will be long since run, so next year’s heatwave might not presage inevitable backflips such as Jay Weatherill’s funding boost for Surf Life Saving SA (a catch-all cash injection that coincidentally allows full service of the shark patrol chopper to be reinstated after last year’s funding cut) or gauche photo opportunities like Steven Marshall’s fleeting visit to the Hutt St Centre kitchen, where any benefit of his briefly providing an extra pair of hands was doubtless undone by the glut of invited journos blocking up the canteen. Mind you, earlier the same day he’d consented to be interviewed for radio wearing bathers and an inflatable tube while sitting in a public swimming pool, so subtlety is perhaps not going to be a feature of the Liberal campaign.

But Marshall’s effervescent sweet-nothings contrast acutely with Weatherill’s downbeat and downright-strange monosyllabic retorts to quite reasonable questions, perhaps befitting the Premier of the Murder Capital of the World.

Pitted against one another, it promises to be a campaign for the ages. Maybe not the Best Campaign Ever, but certainly the Best Worst Campaign Ever.

Tom Richardson is InDaily’s political commentator and Channel Nine’s state political reporter.

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