South Australian State Election, 2006 - Campaign

Campaign

The Labor campaign was heavily based around Premier Mike Rann with Labor's advertising swapping between the mottos "Building South Australia" and, to a greater extent, "RANN Gets Results". Some commentators also argued that the "presidential" style of campaign, common in modern Australian politics, could be seen in Labor's formal campaign launch at the Norwood Town Hall the Sunday before the election, which had some similarities to the nomination conventions that the major parties hold in the United States.

Another facet of the Labor campaign was extensive negative campaigning against Liberal leader Rob Kerin, including an advertisement featuring an excerpt of an interview that Kerin had with FIVEaa presenter Keith Conlon, who asked Kerin why he wanted to be leader of the Liberal Party. Kerin stammered for a few seconds and gave the impression that he was uncertain. The advertisement concluded with the question, "Does Rob Want The Job?". Conlon complained that the advertisement gave the false impression that he was endorsing Labor, but Labor campaign director David Feeney dismissed his concerns. Other negative advertisements run by Labor revolved around the actions of the previous Liberal government—one advertisement and leaflet reminded voters that while in power, the previous Liberal government closed 65 schools, closed hospital wards, and privatised the Electricity Trust of South Australia.

Considered "strapped for cash", the Liberal Party ran a very limited television and radio campaign. Businessman Robert Gerard was forced to resign from his Federal Liberal Party-appointed position on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia due to the party appointing him to the position despite the known fact that he had outstanding tax avoidance issues being dealt with by the Australian Taxation Office, and had thus subsequently pulled out of his traditional role of bankrolling the state division of the party, leaving the party with "only enough funds for the most basic campaign". Kerin indicated people would have to "wait and see" if there would be any campaign, even asking trade unions for donations, no matter how small. The advertisements that did run argued that Labor was wasting record tax receipts from the GST. A number of embarrassments for the Liberal Party surrounded their television advertisement—in an early version released to journalists, Labor was spelt "Labour" (Labor cabinet minister King O'Malley dropped the 'u' in 1912 to "modernise" it as per American English) and the advertisement alleged that South Australia's hospital waiting lists were the worst in the nation, which Labor successfully disputed to the Electoral Commissioner. During the election campaign, David Pisoni, the Liberal candidate for Unley, made allegations in his advertising that Labor and their candidate Michael Keenan supported controversial urban infill programmes, which Labor flatly denied. Electoral Commissioner Kay Mousley investigated and ordered that the advertisements be withdrawn and corrections be run at Pisoni's expense.

The Labor minority government sought to win a majority in the House of Assembly. Opinion polls indicated that this was likely and ABC elections expert Antony Green said that the "Labor government looks set to be returned with an increased majority". Centrebet had Labor at odds of $1.01 and the Liberals at $12.00 for a majority government.

Most commentators agreed that the Liberal Party had little chance of winning government, and that Kerin would step down from the leadership after the election, a suspicion confirmed in Kerin's concession speech. Martin Hamilton-Smith was considering mounting a leadership challenge, however, he withdrew on 14 October 2005 (probably for the sake of the impression of party unity) and subsequently resigned or was pushed from the opposition frontbench.

Read more about this topic:  South Australian State Election, 2006

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