The rivalry (or whatever else you may like to call it) between SA and Victoria has surfaced again following a claim by Victorian Premier Brumby that Adelaide is a "backwater".
Mr Brumby told a Melbourne media conference yesterday that unless Victoria pushed ahead with a $1 billion plan to deepen the channel in Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne would end up like Adelaide."If you want Melbourne to be a backwater, if you want Melbourne eventually to be an Adelaide – as someone described it the other day – well, don't do this project, and Melbourne will just die a slow death," he said.The major dredging project has caused deep division in Melbourne because of environmental concerns.
Mr Rann said Victoria's insecurity stemmed from losing the $6 billion Air Warfare Destroyer contract to South Australia."The Victorians are becoming more defensive because the centre of gravity for Australia's economic future is now firmly based in states like West Australia, Queensland and South Australia," he said."They (Victoria) announced plans to dredge their port back in early 2002, but they haven't got cracking with it," he said."They've been talking about it year after year while we got on with it, and we did it without stuffing up the environment. "We've overcome that here, and that's why we've been winning defence projects and have got a multimillion-dollar mining boom on the way."
Mr Rann may have a point about the port dredging, but he's being more than a bit disingenuous by arguing on economic grounds and also by linking SA with WA and Queensland, two states whose economies have been flourishing for several years now.
Adelaide and SA haven't had an economy to compare with Melbourne and Victoria's for more than 150 years, so if we judge by that criterion we are a backwater. But if you look at qualitative factors, eg the kind of things mentioned in a recent New York Times travel article, then you get a different perspective.
The Advertiser/ Adelaide Now's Rex Jory occasionally writes pieces which capture the flavour of the city. He first drew my attention to the NYT piece in his column last week , though he's also well aware of the less sophisticated side of Adelaide, as this from last year shows.
It's interesting that Mr Brumby's comments have elicited considerable support, if the online poll conducted by Adelaide Now/ The Advertiser is any guide.
Dr Johnson once said "the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England". Perhaps for many people the same holds true about the road to Melbourne (or beyond). My children, who have both moved away from Adelaide (I understand and support why they've done so) would probably concur with Mr Brumby.
I'm sure that Mr Rann, despite his knee jerking boosterism, understands this as well, even though he's chosen to respond with a frontal counter attack when a guerilla style hit and run would have made his point more effectively. And, if he's serious about doing something tangible to ameliorate the backwater perception he could commit to electrifying our major suburban railways. This, after all, has been done in Perth and Brisbane, the other two cities which he believes comprise, with Adelaide, "the centre of gravity for Australia's economic future".