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Richardson: Things SA should stop doing


With more defence-led jobs in the offing, it’s a day to briefly forget our inherent Adelaide condition of self-loathing and innate aversion to good news. Tom Richardson can help, with some handy suggestions for how to make South Australia less… well, South Australian.

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So, it’s a grand day in SA, with the Important Announcement that the Frigates we’ve long known would be built in Adelaide will, in fact, be built in Adelaide.

It’s one of those days that make the state’s citizens briefly walk taller, just as we did on the day the Air Warfare Destroyer contract was similarly confirmed, and the Future Submarines, and so on… before retreating to the comfort of our collective malaise.

Because, of course, most of us probably won’t really notice the trickle-down effect of our latest naval defence boon, except to reconfirm the notion that, as a state, our future is ever at the whim of lucrative government contracts.

But as Steven Marshall – who this week marks his Government’s 100-day milestone in office – never tires of telling us, genuine reform isn’t about picking winners. It’s subtle, and incremental.

So in that spirit, here are a few minor things we can do here in SA that will have a profound effect on the way we live:

Sure, it’s nice that they want to spend (and make) money here and all, but constantly calling them things like “saviour” and “man of steel” really just reinforces that quaint South Australian mindset that we’re actually a bit of a basket case and that anyone who chooses to spend money here must be incorrigibly altruistic.

Either that, or they must have some hidden agenda.

It couldn’t be because they just thought it was a good investment.

We’re actually already on the map, nestled somewhere between the Northern Territory and the Great Australian Bight.

Sure, it may not be the most propitious part of the map to be nestled, but that’s where we are and where we’ve always been.

It really isn’t necessary that every middle-aged former expat gets a write-up in the local paper to explain how their new lifestyle priorities prompted a return to their former home, and how delighted they were to find that the things they used to hate are now sort-of endearing and how lots of things have changed about Adelaide, which is good, but also lots of things have stayed the same, which is also good.

The rest of us who’ve been here the whole time are actually pretty familiar with Adelaide, and we also know that there are other nice places to live, often with more diverse and better-paying jobs.

Revelling in the dubious victory of enticing former Adelaideans back to their university stomping grounds once they’ve already made their mark in the world actually reinforces the peculiar chip on our collective shoulder, succinctly expounded by former Premier Jay Weatherill when he railed against rapid population growth like a couch potato railing against exercise: “Look if you want to spend an hour and a half in traffic or spend over a million dollars for a home and actually deal with the crime and the dysfunction and the disunity that occurs in some of those other fast-growing places – you’re welcome to it. But we like it here.”

And we do.

But do we need to celebrate our economic inertia in a way that makes us come across like better-dressed extras from Deliverance?

Seriously, it’s a nice idea to give people in the CBD a free internet service, but it would be even better if they could actually use it to get access to the internet.

The moment things go awry… Photo via 9 News Adelaide.

Instead, what tends to happen is that you check your phone while standing in a queue or somesuch only to find yourself incapable of refreshing whatever page you were reading.

You’ll momentarily fear your phone has self-combusted before the penny drops – you’ve inadvertently logged on to the AdelaideFree wifi that you’re too lazy to bother deleting from your network history.

So, you have to do the now-traditional Adelaide signature move of switching your phone’s wifi setting off, which you’ll then forget to switch back on for several days – effectively costing you more in paid data than you ever would have used had the free city service never existed in the first place.

The Adelaide City Council – which funded the Internode-operated monstrosity along with the State Government – reckons the forthcoming GigCity rollout may improve things.

But if it doesn’t, let’s not make this one of those eccentric Adelaide things we just learn to live with, like the fenced off old Le Cornu site or the two Britannia roundabouts that still don’t really work, ok?

Airplane Mode and AdelaideFree wifi: equally as useful in allowing you to surf the Net.

There are plenty of other things, of course: symbols that subtly reinforce our self-perception as deserving cases not quite up to the task of managing our own affairs.

But of course, an intrinsic part of the Adelaide psyche remains our innate compulsion to silently cringe at our own shortcomings.

This unique cultural masochism will probably ensure that nothing on this list ever gets ticked off, but perhaps that’s for the best.

For, if nothing else, at least our disposition is dependable.

We’re like the Eeyore of Australian city-states, defiantly wearing our forlorn misfortune like a badge of honour – and ever wary of anything that promises to improve our lot.

For as Eeyore says: “We can’t all and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

Tom Richardson is a senior reporter at InDaily.

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