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The Marshall government’s politically stupid decision


In terms of history, the sheer weight of South Australian post-Playford political evidence dictated the first-term Marshall Liberal government would lose last night, and history was not wrong. Time and time again, so-called ‘wet’, ‘moderate’, or ‘small-l liberal’, governments fail in South Australia.Voters in the country and the suburbs may not be as publicly vocal as inner city minorities, but they have wants, needs and views, and they express them through the ballot box.Issues like the Liberals’ original land tax policy that was going to hurt Mum and Dad and family investors was bound to hurt the party. By the time the Liberals fixed the proposed legislation trust was lost and the damage was done. Similarly, killing off the Supercars was political stupidity. Securing this iconic race to replace the Grand Prix was crucial to our state pride and our economy. Not all South Australians want to go to the Fringe, or listen to opera at the Adelaide Festival in March. Many of us want to watch car racing. When you combine this with the numbers of local and interstate motorsport tourists pumping money into the economy the decision looks terrible, and even more so when the Liberals killed the cars as our struggling city hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars were trying to recover from Covid.The handling of Covid and the timing of opening up our state was another issue that did not work in the Liberals’ favour. Businesses who had already suffered, suffered more. Families were locked down; life was not back to normal. The focus on Covid distracted from the Liberals’ excellent work on jobs, the economy, roads, education and health.All of this was exacerbated by a disciplined Labor Party who ran the most successful small target political strategy Australia has ever seen over a term of government. Labor also ran a health-scare campaign, aided and abetted by the unions, that had a big impact on the result. It’s easy to make big and bold promises on health and ambulance ramping from Opposition. Time will tell whether this focus will prove the undoing of a Labor government again, as it did in 2018.Nicolle Flint is the federal Liberal MP for Boothby

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