21 March 2010

Labor likely to be able to govern in own right after SA election

The ABC reports

South Australian Premier Mike Rann is in a strong position to deliver the Labor Party a third term in government despite a voter backlash. Mr Rann and Liberal leader Isobel Redmond both said the result was too close to call on the night. But Mr Rann is the frontrunner with the ABC's election computer predicting Labor is set to hold 25 seats in the 47-seat House of Assembly. The Liberals are forecast to hold 18, with four Independents.

In a hubristic echo of (or cribbing from) Paul Keating Mr Rann said he hoped to be able to claim the "sweetest victory"

19 March 2010

Election eve

I've followed the ups and downs of the state election campaign probably more closely than most voters, though nowhere near as closely as those who post regularly and sometimes argumentatively on blogs and websites such as The Poll Bludger. I have tweeted a few times @Pathfinder79, usually with links to articles and, space permitting, sometimes a comment.

The consensus among the experts (both generally acknowledged and self-appointed) is that Labor will scrape back in, without having to negotiate with independents or other parties (read National) . Here'san example

For a succinct summary of some of the wider issues see this by Peter Van Onselen in The Australian

Along with Tasmania, SA lags behind other states on most national economic indicators. Its share of the national economy has declined from the levels Labor inherited in 2002. Its share of gross domestic product is below the national average. Business investment is relatively sluggish and its population share is declining, with growth rates slower than all other states except Tasmania. On the face of it, this sounds like a recipe for removing a government.

The Liberal Party wants to use these indicators to condemn Labor as having failed South Australians during its eight years in power. As is often the case in politics, the situation isn't that simple.

On each of the above indicators the rate of decline in SA was substantially higher eight years ago than it is now.

In other words, while Rann hasn't managed to transform the state from an economic laggard to a miracle economy, he has made important headway to improving long-term prosperity.

I and, I suspect,.many other voters think that Labor has overdone the spin. As an example consider the matter of Lance Armstrong and the Tour Down Under in 2009. It took the New York Times ,not a local media outlet, which revealed that the fee paid to Armstrong was not donated to charity, as the government had claimed, but pocketed by the great man (I'm not referring to the Premier).

The US Boulder Report explained how something which could have been handled positively backfired and added to the growing public perception that the government was being economical with the truth:

It’s less the donation than the secrecy surrounding it that seems strange and excessive. As Adelaide Now reported, the South Australia Tourism Commission just got a $1.506 million boost to its budget from the state government, even as Rann said that wasn’t related to Armstrong’s appearance fee.

Armstrong has every right to ask for personal appearance fees. And just as he has every right to solicit donations to his foundation, (most) donors have every right to keep those donations private. But ones made with taxpayer dollars, in an ostensibly democratic and open government, fit a different standard of disclosure. And, a governmental partnership of any kind is the thing you’d think they’d be proud to discuss, particularly since the money may end up right back in the Australian public health system. There shouldn’t be anything about this that’s shameful, but the tight-lipped approach creates needless drama.

The Liberal campaign has not been gaffe-free either but Ms Redmond seems to have been able to put most of her messages across. It's a very tall order for the Liberals to make up all the ground they've lost at the last two elections, but the evidence of polls etc suggests they'll make up a lot of it. We shall see.

06 March 2010

Can I just try that again, it's a little bit jumbled?

On Friday South Australian ABC TV Stateline viewers were short changed by a sudden (and unexplained) truncation of a debate between Treasurer Foley and Shadow Treasurer Griffiths.What went to air (including presenter Ian Henschke's apparent lack of awareness of what had happened) can be viewed here. .

Despite the ABC's ineptitude, what it did screen was interesting for a number of reasons, not least that Mr Foley sounded more like a Liberal than a Labor politician. Mr Rann hardly got a mention, though the Premier did appear in some introductory material (at 1:35). What was more surprising was that Foley praised Mr Howard and Mr Costello (eg at 6:30), and said that he was happy to engage some of their former staffers for the $2.5m budget review body which he plans to set up after the election. To cap it all, when the mild mannered Mr Griffiths took issue with one of his points, the Treasurer accused him (at 8:17) of acting like an old style Labor treasurer!

While Mr Foley had none of the makeup malfunction which may have lessened the Premier's impact during the Leaders' debate earlier in the week, he wasn't always on top of his material. At one point, when trying to explain the effects of the GFC on the state's finances he recognised that he'd lost it and asked (at 4:59) "Can I just try that again, it's a little bit jumbled?". A little later (at 7:23) he had a Mrs Malaprop moment: "We haven't prescripted [sic]anything".

And Mr Griffiths? He may not have scored many points but in my opinion he didn't do himself or his party too much harm. Check out the video and decide for yourself.

Update 8 March

A longer version of the debate, presumably the one which was intended to go to air on Friday, is now available here . It has cut out some of the preliminary material and appears to include the full original debate. It also makes my timings above inaccurate. It shows Mr Foley in full attack mode and Mr Griffiths, who stumbled over the names of taxes, more defensive.

I can't find any reference on the ABC website to the fact that this was not the version shown on Friday. This is inexcusable (and Orwellian). I'm not saying that the first version should stand but that the ABC, whose fault it was, should point out that what viewers saw on Friday night is not what internet users can see now. If it means two versions so be it.

Update 9 March

This is now on the SA Stateline website:

This debate failed to air on the program due to technical difficulties. The version here was screened in Stateline's Saturday repeat timeslot.

It is wrong to claim that the debate "failed to air on the program". Also the "version here" implies that there are other versions. I know of at least one other version, but how many are there?

There is still (6.00pm CST) no transcript. Wonder why.

Further update 10 March

In today's Crikey (scroll down until you reach the item) Alan Sunderland, Head of National Programs ABC News replied. He conceded that Friday's Stateline was "interrupted by technical difficulties" but claimed that the ABC "fixed the problem and the full show aired the following day in the normal repeat timeslot".

He then added
"Although it is indeed standard practice to add an Editor’s Note explaining any changes from the program that went to air, we would not routinely note that a technical glitch had occurred. However, to remove any confusion or uncertainty during an election campaign, an explanatory note is being added to the program website."

The explanatory note is now on the program website:

Foley v Griffiths on SA economics

Source: Stateline South Australia

Published: Friday, March 5, 2010 8:58 AEDT

Expires: Thursday, June 3, 2010 8:58 AEDT

Treasurer Kevin Foley and shadow treasurer Steven Griffiths debate economic policy for the March 20 poll in SA. This debate failed to air on the program due to technical difficulties. The version here was screened in Stateline's Saturday repeat timeslot.

This incorrectly states that the program “failed to air” – only some of it did -and shows that the boundary between the technical and editorial matters can easily become blurred, especially during an election campaign.

Other ABC News Sites state when stories are updated: why can’t Stateline’s?

Oh, and there's still no transcript online. Due to "technical difficulties", Mr Sutherland?