The Sunday Mail has published a survey of 574 voters in the eastern Adelaide seat of Morialta which shows Liberal candidate John Gardner with a 52-48 lead over Labor incumbent Lindsay Simmons, pointing to a swing to the Liberals of nearly 10 per cent. This supports the general view that Labor faces a particular problem in this seat more so than in other seats with smaller margins and replicates the result of a Labor internal poll I’ve heard rumours of. The primary vote figures are 43 per cent for the Liberals (35.2 per cent at the 2006 election), 35 per cent for Labor (47.7 per cent), 4 per cent for the Greens (6.3 per cent) and 3 per cent each for the Democrats (3.0 per cent) and Family First (5.7 per cent).
Highlights of week one:
Mike Smithson writes in today’s Sunday Mail that Liberal tracking polling of six marginal seats had them 48-52 behind in October, 51-49 ahead a month ago and 53-47 ahead 11 days ago. Leaving aside the trend, the meaning of these figures depends entirely on what the six seats are, which we are not told. If it’s the six most marginal Labor seats, it points to a swing of about 7.5 per cent on the latest figure: enough to cost Labor seven seats, which would reduce them to 21 seats out of 48. The rumour on the street, says Smithson, is that Labor polling tells a similar story. Curiously, Smithson’s line in last week’s column was that Mawson, Hartley and Newland would be retained by Labor and that’s that. Norwood, Light and Chaffey were rated strong possibilities for the Liberals, along with independent-held Frome and Mount Gambier, but Morialta was still a better than an even chance for Labor. Smithson also believed Labor were an outside chance in Liberal-held Stuart and Unley and independent-held Mitchell.
Greg Kelton of The Advertiser wrote a week ago that Liberal polling gave them a very strong chance of winning Newland, Mawson, Light and Morialta. Labor is reportedly banking on picking up Mitchell from independent Kris Hanna, which could be a perverse consequence of a Liberal resurgence relegating Hanna to third place and denying him a win on Liberal preferences. UPDATE (1/3): Today Kelton reports Labor is pessimistic about Morialta, Newland and Light, but more bullish about Hartley and Bright.
The formal announcement of the campaign came days after Mike Rann announced a plan to resolve Adelaide’s signature infrastructure headache by duplicating the Southern Expressway. This presently runs one way towards the city in the morning before changing direction for the afternoon. Rann trumped the opposition in making the surprise announcement last Wednesday, which had planned to make a similar promise later in the day. Greg Kelton of The Advertiser reports Isobel Redmond had somehow fluffed an opportunity to get in first during a radio interview in the morning, despite prompting from her staff. Labor’s $445 million costing for the project ($370 million for the duplication, with the remainder to be spent on the Darlington interchange) compelled the Liberals to recalculate their own sums, which reportedly had it at $270 million. Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas was sent out to take one for the party (in the words of a Liberal source quoted by Greg Kelton) by announcing that while Labor’s Labor’s promise would be matched, further details would not be forthcoming until later in the campaign. Isobel Redmond was apparently unable to do so because of other engagements, while Shadow Treasurer Steven Griffiths was believed to be in Maitland. The confusion in the Liberal camp let Labor off the hook over a statement made by Transport Minister Patrick Conlon seven months ago that the cost of the project then put at $280 million was more than the government could afford. The most sensitive marginal seats serviced by the expressway are Mawson and Bright, along with Mitchell which Labor hopes to recover from independent Kris Hanna. Transport Minister Pat Conlon has further sought to concentrate the electorate advantage by promising quotas on the employment of workers on the project, which will require that 750 out of 1500 come from the southern suburbs, and another 200 be workers who are young or from other disadvantaged groups. However, he concedes this unwieldy sounding policy does not come with an iron-clad guarantee.
Staying in the general area, the Prime Minister joined Mike Rann yesterday in promising an $18 million overpass to improve safety at the intersection of Victor Harbor Road and Main Road in McLaren Vale, located in the marginal seat of Mawson.
Renato Castello of the Sunday Mail reports the government hurried through a rezoning at Gawler Racecourse shortly before it went into caretaker mode, allowing for development of a 4.3 hectare shopping centre and office development. It is unclear how clever an idea this is vis-a-vis the knife-edge marginal of Light, as the development is opposed by a local council that believes it will divert trade from downtown Gawler.
Mike Rann went to Port Augusta on Thursday to promote $18.2 million of local spending on the mining industry and a promised $5 million sporting complex, presumably in a bid to keep the heat on the Liberals in Stuart.
During an ABC Radio debate with Hartley Labor MP Grace Portolesi, Liberal candidate Joe Scalzi gamely voiced support for anti-abortion corflutes which have appeared around Adelaide courtesy of independent upper house candidate Trevor Grace. The posters, which feature a premature baby’s disfigured head, are the subject of an investigation by the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Vickie Chapman has complained to the Electoral Commission about a newsletter in which Labor MP Vini Ciccarello claims credit for two projects in Kensington. The projects are actually located in Chapman’s seat of Bragg, but are to be transferred to Ciccarello’s seat of Norwood as a result of the redistribution.
Port Adelaide mayor and Liberal Party member Gary Johanson says he is considering running as an independent against Deputy Premier and Treasurer Kevin Foley in Port Adelaide. Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses SA campaign co-ordinator Colin Thomas, who polled 8.8 per cent as Greens candidate in federal Port Adelaide in 2007, will run as an independent against Racing Minister Michael Wright in Lee.
Former Democrats MLC Sandra Kanck has re-emerged as an election candidate, albeit in the radically unwinnable third position on the party’s upper house ticket. The lead candidate is Jeanie Walker, followed by Tom Salerno.
After long-running and uninteresting stand-off between the two parties, which at one point had broadcaster Channel Ten threatening to withdraw, the leaders debate has been set for Wednesday.