On Saturday, the Marshall Government went the way of the dodo with a significant swing to Labor on the 2pp. Interestingly, both Liberal and Labor commenters, Nicolle Flint (Lib-SA) and Amanda Rishworth (Lab-SA), on the Sky News post election analysis agreed with each other that it was the loss of the V8 Supercars to Adelaide in 2020, which was the dominant and deciding factor. On his show on Sunday night, Paul Murray also agreed – “it was the Supercars wot dun it,” he asserted.
I could not help but be a tad sceptical that a car race, which in its final year (2020) had attracted only 206,000 fans over the four days made all the difference, considering what the entire country, including South Australia, had been through in the last two years.
To me, the rationale for the election loss seems all too convenient and, besides, if Marshall’s polling through the last two years could be put down to one issue, surely he would have had enough nous to do a back flip and ensure the race returned to Adelaide post pandemic? Was this issue, as Murray and those South Australian HoRs were contending, really front and centre in this election?
InDaily, an Adelaide independent on-line news site reported 7/9/21 that a statewide poll conducted by Dynata, an on-line market research company, in July, for The Australia Institute – an organisation not known for leaning “right” – had the Liberals in front 51-49 on the 2pp, with health reported as the ‘…dominant issue of the campaign’ and noted that the polling ‘…mirror[ed] the last statewide poll taken in SA, a Sunday Mail-YouGov poll published in March.’
Nowhere in the polling reported by InDaily did the V8 Supercars decision make it as a concern of electors. In fact, InDaily noted that ‘[T]he Australia Institute’s SA Director Noah Schulz-Byard said the polling suggested “voters can expect a strong campaign with a focus on health [38%], the economy [24%] and climate change [(12%] over the next six months…In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is shaping up as the key political battleground in South Australia.”‘
While Peter Malinauskas, the SA Opposition Leader, did at the time respond to Marshall’s Supercars decision saying he would lobby to have the event returned to Adelaide, from the published polling the issue seemed to have lost any major electoral sting at least in 2021.
On Murray’s Monday night Sky News show Marshall’s loss was again examined. Yes, the Supercars still held first place for the loss according to Murray, but Murray’s interlocutors held that Marshall had taken a back seat both to his CHO and Police Commissioner in the management of the pandemic, which didn’t help his leadership credentials.
On Laura Jayes’ Sky News morning show on Monday, The Advertiser’s David Pemberthy asserted that, unlike the other Australian State Opposition Leaders, all of whom had lost their jobs during the pandemic because of their criticism of their respective Premier’s Covid decision-making, Peter Malinauskas had remained in lockstep with Marshall throughout; so no mention of the Supercars there. Refreshing, however, was the willingness of Pemberthy (and those Murray guests later in the day) to offer a wider analysis of factors for Marshall’s election loss.
Back on Monday of last week, the Prime Minister was at Gosford on a Paul Murray “Pub Test” Show. At the end of the show, Murray turned to his trio of Sky contributors – Joe Hildebrand, Chris Kenny and Mark Latham – for a precis of the PM’s performance. Murray’s last question was directed to Latham:
‘There are people in this room who have lost their jobs because of the vaccine mandates. We live in this scenario where a teacher can’t go to work but an un-vaccinated parent can go to teacher-parent night; we’ve passed the point where, if it ever mattered, it doesn’t matter now. Do you think it’s too dangerous for the Prime Minister to start to speak against this stuff because of the Twitter stuff, or is there an untapped group of people who go, “you know what?, this is over!”‘
Latham replied that in NSW there is a ‘massive teacher crisis with 7000 teachers either sacked or stood down,’ causing shortened classes and reduced hours of teaching. Police, fireys, ambos, SES and nurses are in the same position; ‘it’s time to lift these mandates,’ Latham said. Is the situation in other parts of the country, different from in NSW, mayhap?
Given Latham’s response, it was interesting that no questions at the “Pub Test” dealt directly with this appalling state of affairs. Of two questions about the pandemic that were asked, one referred, though indirectly, to how the mandates had affected workers, but focused on Federal-State relations and governments being able to work together; which gave Morrison an opportunity to reiterate his mea culpa comments at his National Press Club speech of a couple of weeks ago, that his job was to get agreements through the national cabinet, which he had done in all 67 meetings he had chaired. Though he did not state it, those agreements included utilising the powers of the States to force Australians into vaccine mandates.
But that Murray’s question could countenance the possibility that it may be ‘too dangerous’ for a Liberal Prime Minister to address what is by far the worst of government excess because of the left wing twitter mob, rather than reach out to the thousands of sacked or stood down Australians who just want to go back to work freed from government mandated health orders – a position that may actually assist Morrison to win the next election – Murray is suggesting that, rather than Morrison find what little inner Liberal values of freedom and individual liberty he has, and spin his wheels in a major government U-turn on the mandates, those weak kneed Covid “screamers” on twitter maybe the bigger risk to Morrison’s re-election. “Hello,” V8 Supercars!
By telling the people what really mattered to them, rather than taking notice of what they said mattered, does the politicians’ and their hangers-on’ credibility no good. When considered in relation to the destruction to the country that the pandemic controls have caused, convenient, I’d say, are hashtags and V8s. They, like Horatio, should take seriously Hamlet’s advice: “There are more things in heaven and earth…”