SA Election: less than a week to go

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

With less than one week to the March 18 State Election, Senior Lecturers in Politics at the University of Adelaide, Dr Clem Macintyre and Dr Greg McCarthy, give their final weekly examination of the state of the campaign. Later this week they will sum up their thoughts on the election, the associated campaign and what they expect to happen on Saturday.

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.

The last week of the election will be a contest for the undecided voters. We can expect an intense media campaign by the major parties to sway these voters to their cause. The Labor Government has set its pitch around a proven team, headed by Premier Mike Rann. This pitch has been accompanied by the message that Rob Kerin's Liberal Opposition is not ready to govern.

In contrast the Liberal Party's message is that the government is preoccupied with spin and lacking in substance. The Liberal Party has concentrated its efforts in the marginal seats, eschewing television advertising. This will change this week with the Party's tax cuts given prominence. The minor parties, with Family First the most 'cashed-up' party will also seek to capture the attention of the voters through the media of television and radio.

We can expect the ALP to pitch its message around sound economic management, employment growth, and the defence industry projects and the spin-off effects this will create for the economy. Premier Rann is leading an ALP campaign that stresses the public provision of education, health, infrastructure and environment services. The key announcements have been in health, with the de-privatization of the Modbury hospital and a renovation of the Flinders Medical Centre. The campaign will be intense in the marginal seats where the ALP is hoping to pick up the seats of Hartley, Stuart, Light, Morialta, Mawson, Newland and Bright. Its best chances are in the metropolitan area where the ALP's polling is strongest and where there is no incumbent Liberal candidate (notably Bright, Newlands and Unley).

The Liberal Party has pitched its campaign promises on tax cuts, notably land tax and payroll tax, while promising a $3000 first home buyer rebate. To fund these promises the Liberal Party has promised to cut 4000 public servants. It has also supported private-public partnership in providing roads, and stressing the benefits of the private providers in respect of hospitals and schools. It has pitched its tax cuts to the marginal mortgage belt seats such as Bright, Mawson and Newlands. The Liberal campaign is likely to be most successful in the country seats, and they are keen to win Mt Gambier and Hammond and hold on to Stuart.

The battle for the Legislative Council is going to be very tight. Should the major parties retain their normal support they can expect to win at least four seats each. As such, the contest over the last three seats will then be between the major parties, Family First (Dennis Hood), No Pokies (Nick Xenophon), the Greens (Mark Parnell) and the Australian Democrats (Kate Reynolds). Preference deals will favor Family First for one of the three seats; leaving a tight contest between the rest for the last two seats.

Despite quite clear policy differences and directions, the election seems not to have captured the attention of the undecided voters; by Saturday these voters will have to make a choice between two quite distinct major party offerings and between diverse candidates in the Upper House.


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