State election: the week ahead (Feb 27-Mar 5)

Monday, 27 February 2006

In the leadup to the March 18 State Election, Senior Lecturers in Politics at the University of Adelaide, Dr Clem Macintyre and Dr Greg McCarthy, will examine the political week ahead. Who's performing well? Who needs to lift their game? What are the major issues on the campaign trail this week? Dr McCarthy and Dr Macintyre will offer their thoughts on these topics and other election issues on a weekly basis.

The following comments can be attributed to Dr Greg McCarthy, Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Politics, University of Adelaide. For further comments about any aspect of the forthcoming election, please contact Dr McCarthy or Dr Macintyre on their contact details listed below.

The coming week of South Australian election campaigning will give further definition to the differences between the political parties.

The Liberal Opposition has been subtly going about product placement. Having taken the move to downsize the public service by 4000 and ridden out the expected (albeit limited) acrimony, the Opposition now has the "responsible government savings" for its election "sweeteners". So as the campaign hots up this week, expect the Opposition to make market-based announcements to win over the "aspirational" voters in outer city electorates such as Bright, Mawson and Fisher (e.g. big stamp duty reductions).

The Labor government has been running a very smooth media campaign but will recognise that they must counter the Opposition's free-market approach with a product of its own. The Government will have to show how "getting things done" requires public expenditure. The ALP will have to be more open in its commitment to the public sector in the South Australian economy (while not scaring off the business sector); especially in its priority policy areas of the economy, health, education, law and order and the environment.

The stakes are high for both participants in Friday's "great debate". A lot rests on Premier Rann, as he features so prominently in the Government's campaign, and he is expected to win. But for Kerin, a draw will not be enough: he must win the debate rather than just be credible.

However, all the big announcements by both major parties will still come in the last week of the campaign with both party launches set for around March 12. However, if these are to be credible, both major parties cannot fundamentally change their products once they have been placed before the electorate.

With three weeks to go the minor parties and independents will also be seeking to capture the attention of the electorate, while at the same time seeking to firm up their chances via preference deals. A clear indication is the cross preference arrangements between the Australian Democrats and the Greens. But also at issue will be Family First and whether they will add any nuances to their usual preferencing for the Liberal Party.

While the electorate is only beginning to turn on to the election, the parties have been subtly presenting product differentiation for the final big sell on March 18.


Contact Details

Dr Greg McCarthy
Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Politics
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 4735
Mobile: 0419 809 938

Professor Clem Macintyre
Head, School of History & Politics
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5601
Mobile: 0432 977 055

Ms Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762