ABC News 24 reports Mike Rann has announced he will stand down and hand the reins to Education Minister Jay Weatherill, who evidently has the numbers to easily defeat Rann in a party room vote. I’ll add an assessment of Rann’s electoral record shortly, but for now here’s a place for discussion of matters South Australian.
UPDATE: I’ve re-updated an earlier update after fleshing it out for inclusion in today’s Crikey email. It now reads as follows.
The spectacle of Australia’s longest-serving Premier announcing his retirement after a tap on the shoulder from a little-known union official has excited much comparison with Labor’s recent leadership shenanigans federally and in New South Wales. But from another perspective, Mike Rann’s premiership and the manner of its ending marks a significant departure from the party’s recent practice.
The arrival of the Rann government in March 2002 completed an ALP clean sweep of the nation’s six state governments, a process that began when Bob Carr came to office in New South Wales in 1995. His other counterparts at the time were Peter Beattie, Premier of Queensland since June 1998; Jim Bacon, who came to power in Tasmania the following September; Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria since October 1999; and Geoff Gallop, elected in Western Australia a year before Rann.
By September 2007, all of these leaders had gone — and unlike Rann, not a single one had been pushed. Carr, Bracks and Beattie left entirely on their own terms in August 2005, July 2007 and September 2007 respectively; Gallop resigned in January 2006 after announcing he was struggling with depression; and Bacon quit the previous June due to a battle with lung cancer, which would claim his life three months later.
By very stark contrast, Rann has lingered well beyond his use-by date, and while the particular manner of his execution might be questioned, it seems a little unfair to tar its architects with the brush of Sussex Street. Rann has led the state for 9½ years and the party for nearly 17, and despite strong performances in 1997 (when Labor nearly returned to power one term after the 1993 massacre) and 2006 (when his government was handsomely re-elected after a successful first term), not even the most charitable assessment of his electoral record can argue that he deserved more time.
The chart below benchmarks Rann against other mainland Labor state governments by plotting their two-party election results against their length of time in office. This shows four of the five with remarkably similar trajectories for their first terms, before South Australia breaks away with a much sharper decline going into the subsequent election (Western Australia, of course, is an even odder man out; more on that shortly).
However, a mitigating circumstance becomes apparent if we work off real time rather than each government’s year-zero. The chart below suggests either that the election of the Rudd government in November 2007 was a watershed event (the occasion of which is crudely marked by the vertical line), or that it happened to coincide with an acceleration in the various state governments’ natural rates of decay
While it may immediately appear that a general decline is already evident in 2007, this is partly because sharp downward trajectories for Western Australia and South Australia are locked in by the post-Rudd elections of 2008 and 2010. It is true that the Queensland, Victorian and NSW governments were already heading south on the back of their September 2006, November 2006 and March 2007 results, but in each case the tempo quickened after November 2007 (calamitously so in the case of New South Wales).
The point is further emphasised by the fact that the “newer” governments of Western Australia and South Australia are the two that record premature declines in the first chart, as the federal anchor was weighing them down earlier in the piece. Rann can thus claim some sort of an alibi for falling short of his counterparts in the three biggest states.
However, it’s instructive to compare Rann’s trajectory with that of Geoff Gallop and Alan Carpenter, ignoring the temptation to regard WA as an exceptional case. Gallop’s government came to office on the back of the highest two-party vote of any of the five incoming governments under observation, but it uniquely flatlined when first up for re-election in 2005. A distorting factor here was the free kick Labor had received from One Nation preferences in 2001: Gallop did receive a fillip in 2005 on the primary vote, which was up from 37.3% to 41.9% (the only time WA Labor has topped 40% at a state or federal election since 1987). Nonetheless, the 2005 result undeniably stands out from the crowd, the conventional explanation for which is a creeping conservatism that has also seen Western Australia weaken for Labor federally.
That being so, it is notable that Rann’s result in 2010 was hardly better than what Alan Carpenter managed on far less friendly electoral turf for Labor in 2008, notwithstanding that Rann’s government did actually cling to office. This might have something to do with the fact that the WA Liberals had changed leaders on the eve of their campaign, or with the decline in federal Labor’s fortunes in the 16 months that separated the two elections. However, there seems equally strong grounds to blame Labor’s leadership issues in South Australia — namely the encumbrance of the Michelle Chantelois episode, and well-founded scepticism as to whether Rann would see out the ensuing term.
Recent polling strengthens the argument that Rann has become a heavier weight for Labor than he has had a right to be. Not only has he recorded consistently big deficits against Liberal leader Isobel Redmond as preferred premier, he also trailed Jay Weatherill by 40% to 27% in a recent poll conducted by The Sunday Mail. Notwithstanding the bad reputation that leadership changes have acquired of late, Labor’s caucus and factional bigwigs were entitled to conclude that Rann’s extended victory lap had become an indulgence the government could no longer afford.
113 comments on “Rann out, Weatherill in”
Danny @ 46
“2) part of the deal was to deliver 2 Left/Unaligned seats to the Right, these being Elder (currently held by the Left’s Pat Conlon) and Rann’s seat of Ramsay”
As usual to hell with the rank and file so long as the factions are looked after
[my two favorite presidents.]
Are paying homage to Teddy and Honest Abe by spelling with an American accent here? 🙂
How many National Party MP’s get to vote for the PM when Coalition is in government?
How many Liberal Party MP’s get to vote for the Deputy PM?
[my two favorite presidents.]
When it comes to real leaders they needed peeps like Norm Kirk and David Lange.
My understanding is the Libs elect their own Leader and Deputy and the Nats do the same.
If the Libs and Nats are in coalition and in Government, then the Nats have the Deputy PM job as part of the deal.
[How many National Party MP’s get to vote for the PM when Coalition is in government?]
Atticus, the Nationals have the theoretical power of veto over the Liberal leader by threatening to walk if x is elected. McEwen made it clear in 1968 that Billy McMahon was unacceptable and that the Country Party (as it then was) would leave the coalition if he was elected. McMahon only became PM after McEwen’s retirement.
[its electoral decline is not entirely longevity-related]
I disagree William – it may coincide with the rise of Labor federally, but as a South Australian I would say the strong perception is that a number of scandals/incidents finally started to stick (Foley, Chantelois, Burnside Council etc), together with people forgetting what the last Liberal government here was like.
Rann’s “law and order” agenda has mercifully lost its power to scare the bogans into voting for him. I see the High Court knocking back the bikie laws and Atkinson getting the arse as symbolic in that regard.
Add on top of that a Labor party which has moved so far to the right in this state that they are openly at war with some sections of the union movement. I have been amazed how hostile the relationship has become – many of the unions in the state are prepared to openly attack the government on the question of values, particularly in light of things like the cutting of WorkCover.
If the posts above about giving extra seats to the right are correct, I am bewildered. Why would the left give even more power to this totally unrepresentative faction?
Also the only reason that the Libs are not in power as we speak is that they are utterly incompetent. They somehow managed to underestimate Labor at the last election and their campaign was a joke by voting day.
Well said Atticus @53
The Coalition has factions. They’re called the Liberal and National Parties. Seats in the ministry are divvied up accordingly, even if it means promoting deadwood Nats to Cabinet.
[ My understanding is the Libs elect their own Leader and Deputy and the Nats do the same.]
Be that as it may, the Coalition ministry is not based entirely on merit (and I use the term loosely). The Nats get a quota.
I see the SA ALP had used the NSW/Federal ALP method of renewal
After fooling the people of NSW twice, it had not been as efficient
As for how incompetant the Liberal election campaign was, they romp in with the 2PP, The ALP superior margin seats sandbagging won them the election like the federal one
dovif – indeed, the ALP was smart enough to realise how close it was going to be and focus their efforts appropriately. As messed up as the machine is it can still mobilise the troops fairly well. The Libs appeared to sit back and expect an armchair ride to glory, and were then bewildered when they lost.
I still can’t work out what is happening in Burnside Council but Worley must have a very short lifespan given that he has done the impossible and made Bressington look good.
How a Minister can say he won’t read a report as he doesn’t trust himself not to blab the contents is beyond me.
Diog – yes, the whole thing is unbelievably fishy. How can they start a review and then just decide that it’s not worth finishing? Surely you must know something about its content before you make that call? If so, what did they know about it, and what was the motivation for stopping? It all stinks to high heaven.
I have had the joy of living in the Burnside Council’s jurisdiction… couldn’t happen to a nicer organisation.
I was simply answering Atticus at 53.
Ministries and other baubles of power are distributed according to the coalition agreement applying at the time.
When Julian Mcgauran defected from the Nats to the Libs a couple of years ago, one of the flow ons was the Nats lost a Ministry.
I think the public interest argument will win that one.
[I see the SA ALP had used the NSW/Federal ALP method of renewal]
Sure, remove a leader whose time is clearly up. FYI, While Rann has been leader, your lot went through 6. Of the 5 previous leaders, 3 were “knived” and one resigned due to corruption.
Liberals best keep the mouths well and truly shut on this issue and not try to play the predictable card here. The SA Liberal party is notorious for its leadership squabbles (even on the last week of the 2010 campaign they couldn’t help themselves)
It probably cost them the election. You just can’t find incompetence like that anywhere else.
I think Weatherill probably could win. Not saying he is a certainty but he is popular and the kind of politician Labor needs. And it was very clear that the biggest pull on Labor’s support was Rann and the old boys looking arrogant and aloof. As long as a full front bench renewal comes in with Weatherill, there is a good chance they could win in 2014 – at least put huge pressure on the currently toothless opposition.
My fear is a hard-arsed, hard right leader will take the Liberal reins and win on attacking and govern ultra-conservatively.
[It probably cost them the election. You just can’t find incompetence like that anywhere else.]
No shit. With solidarity like that, even the NSW ALP would have a decent chance against them.
Of course their Shadow Treasurer saying his budget figures were spin wasn’t a big help either. I think they are just lazy and almost prefer the slack life in Opposition. I know a few Labor people who say the Lubs just don’t do their homework and only do something if it’s handed to them on a silver platter and even then can’t be arsed doing anything mist of the time.
Well their job, post-playmander, seems to be minding the shop while Labor gets their shit back together.
Well it’s hardly surprising Labor are on the nose. Our politicians seem to be learning retarded at the moment.
Weird regulations and new laws seem to keep surfacing from the Attorney General’s Department. The last election stopped the one where they wanted to enforce specific medical treatment on people for unnamed diseases. John Rau wanted to make it illegal for minors to get certain body piercings even with parental (and the minor’s) permission because of potential lifelong consequences but still allow infant circumcision. Only last week it became public that they have made doctors apply to bureaurats to give pain medication to people in great pain such as bone on bone joint problems and they in their wisdom have made some people go from 3 tablets a day to 1 a day cold turkey. All of which make it totally unsafe to vote labor under any circumstances.
They’ve agreed to an ICAC – FINALLY – but done nothing about it, I guess it has to be pre-neutered, which is a major platform of the otherwise USELESS Libs here.
Our utility bills keep going up partly because of the desalination plant most people didn’t want and when the outsourcing contract that the Libs foisted on us finally expired Labor did not repatriate our water supply – so why would you vote for them???
Also observers have seen the “clever” things other Labor state governments like Queensland have done such as privatise the railways but only the profitable bits leaving the loss making essential services for the public to fund. The definition of corruption for ICAC should be extended to include things that has no benefit except for the reigning political party.
So I doubt replacing the front man will make any difference.
[As for how incompetant the Liberal election campaign was, they romp in with the 2PP, The ALP superior margin seats sandbagging won them the election like the federal one]
Nice try. The Libs lost the 2PP vote in the federal election. Stop making crap up. Your side lost. Get over it.
[John Rau wanted to make it illegal for minors to get certain body piercings even with parental (and the minor’s) permission because of potential lifelong consequences but still allow infant circumcision.]
Infant circumcision was dumped a few years ago in public hospitals if done for “social” reasons.
I bet you dollars to donuts that Premier Weatherill will declare himself to be personally pro-marriage equality (but at odds with the caucus)
Since Jay regularly attends Rainbow Labor events, I think you can be fairly sure on that one TSOP.
Foley and Kouts don’t seem to be all that chirpy about recent events.
And Rann doesn’t seem his usual voluble self.
[Mr Weatherill said he had tried calling Mr Rann, but the Premier had not answered or returned any of his phone calls.]
Perhaps his mobile phone isn’t working in India.
[I bet you dollars to donuts that Premier Weatherill will declare himself to be personally pro-marriage equality (but at odds with the caucus)]
S.A. Labor voted to support same sex marriage last year.
It doesn’t really matter what the S.A. caucus things, it will be part of the platform by late this year.
[S.A. Labor voted to support same sex marriage last year.
It doesn’t really matter what the S.A. caucus things, it will be part of the platform by late this year.]
You know what I meant 🙂
If the Libs don’t oppose it or are given a conscience vote on the issue, it could well pass. If it is divided down party lines, it’ll likely come down to whatever Darley and Vincent’s views are on it.
It’s possible SA could make history here.
[If the Libs don’t oppose it or are given a conscience vote on the issue, it could well pass. If it is divided down party lines, it’ll likely come down to whatever Darley and Vincent’s views are on it.]
I think this would be chaotic. If the S.A. parliament enacts same sex marriage, then there is no way those marriages would be valid in other states.
It needs a federal solution by amending the marriage act.
There isn’t going to be a vote in the SA parliament on the issue of same-sex marriage, even under Jay Weatherill’s leadership. Whilst Jay’s views are quite clear, labor unity still holds a majority of the caucus therefore such a vote would be futile, in spite of what happened at the state convention last year.
Absolutely true, Sykesie.
As we discovered at the last State Convention, the views of the “rank and file” Unity/SDA membership is somewhat at odds with the Unity/SDA leadership, including those who sit in the parliament.
In an ideal world (where the leadership clearly reflects the views of the membership) this issue would get up in a canter. The unfortunate reality, however, is the Labor Party is dominated by people who put their personal religious views and personal ambitions ahead of the best interests of the party as a whole.
[The unfortunate reality, however, is the Labor Party is dominated by people who put their personal religious views and personal ambitions ahead of the best interests of the party as a whole.]
If I may correct you, the Labor Party is run by people who put their personal religious views etc Their policies become law because of their power, and who they appoint to be in Parliament. Mind you, their choices leave a bit to be desired at times – Bernie Finnigan, Russell Wortley et al.
Being a rank and file Labor member is only helping the cause of the Shoppies’ Union in running the ALP. They thank you, I hope.
[Whilst Jay’s views are quite clear, labor unity still holds a majority of the caucus therefore such a vote would be futile, in spite of what happened at the state convention last year.]
I don’t agree with this. Now that Unity has made Weatherill the leader, they are giving him authority to lead. Do you really think they will cut him down on a policy issue just after making him leader?
All they will care about is what the polls are doing, and if Weatherill helps make Redmond look like the dill she is, they Weatherill will have a lot of leeway to do what he likes on policy issues.
I don’t think we really disagree at all ShowsOn. I agree entirely with your comments at 79 and 81. Its a federal issue and Weatherill doesnt really need to antagonise the right by doing anything on the floor of the SA parliament. However, I do expect he will make his personal views very loud and clear. I look forward to it!
One might also add that while it seems “the faction heavies” were the ones who brought the news, there’s no way they’d have done it if Rann had been competitive in the polls. So although one might think it not a good look, in a muted and indirect way, it is a reflection of the strong sentiment of the wider public.
In this sense, it is somewhat differrnt from the Rudd dumping, since
a) Rudd was still ahead in the polls
b) he was a first term PM
c) it was an election year and dumping him would mean that the successor would be deprived in practice of the chance to run on the record of the government achievements, so ceteris paribus the successor had to be someone who would pull in votes from people who were intending to vote for the other side, like Hawke for example. Gillard was not that person and had to carry the can for the perceived failures of the ALP, while disavowing all the positives.
Dumping Rann, a longterm and faltering leader who was well behind in favour of someone apparently different and better with more than two years to go sounds a lot less counter-intuitive. It might not work — governments tend to have a use-by date –but it’s easy to imagine that it might at worst save the furniture, to use the old metaphor.
Jay Wheatherill! for F@#K’s sake just do what needs to be done! This is embarrassing!
[I think this would be chaotic. If the S.A. parliament enacts same sex marriage, then there is no way those marriages would be valid in other states.]
That’s the other states’ problem, not ours.
If the Federal government are too scared to act, stand aside on the issues and let the states and territories decide for themselves.
And I’d never dream of the current SA ALP allowing it to pass, I was merely discussing a legislative hypothetical discussing the make-up of the LC.
[Jay Wheatherill! for F@#K’s sake just do what needs to be done! This is embarrassing!]
Calm down. Rann’s in India. He is gonna come back and negotiate a peaceful transition. Think less Rudd/Gillard or Hawke/Keating and more Blair/Brown.
The Liberal spin is gonna be out there, no matter what happens.
I know you are not very bright, but you do know that the Liberal SA won the 2PP
This is a SA tread
dovif: yes, and the ALP won the 2PP federally in 1998 (the GST election).
Your point is?
[dovif: yes, and the ALP won the 2PP federally in 1998 (the GST election).
Your point is?]
I think you’ll find the point is that TSOP forcefully (and no doubt unintentionally) misinterpreted someone’s earlier comment re 2PP.
It would actually be a masterstroke for Weatherill to come out hard with something innovative like gay marriage.
To oppose it, the Libs would have to adopt their nasty old school conservative costumes, which would remind the public of what they can really be like.
Meanwhile it would wash away any sense that he is the equivalent of Rudd – to have any real chance of winning the next election, he would need to show that Labor is taking a new(ish) direction and still has room to reform and innovate. Rudd’s mistake, IMHO, was not using his first term mandate to push through some relatively radical stuff. After a while people grew very disillusioned with him as a supposed breath of fresh air. SA Labor should take heed and let the new premier restore a bit of this state’s former reputation as the home of progressive social ideas.
Weatherill would not be there without agreeing to some deal with the right. They put in a lefty so it doesn’t actually look like a right takeover.
I think it was the decision to protect Arkaroola. Marathon Resources and the right of the Labor Party were livid. The day before the announcement Koutsantonis was at the Australian Uranium Conference assuring them them all would be fine. Watch the decision get overturned.
I know you are not very bright, but you do know that the Liberal SA won the 2PP
This is a SA tread]
I know, and I was correcting your assertion that they did so federally as well. Learn to read.
[I think it was the decision to protect Arkaroola. Marathon Resources and the right of the Labor Party were livid. The day before the announcement Koutsantonis was at the Australian Uranium Conference assuring them them all would be fine. Watch the decision get overturned.]
Of course it will, mining expansion is a big economic winner for the state (besides those that want it to stay as the granny flat of Australia) and both the Soft and Hard Right (as well as many on the Left) agree with that. It’s the social politics which are really being hurt by a hegemonic fringe.
There is absolutely no chance of the Arkaroola decision being overturned. End of.
I agree with Sykesie.
There is no great public push for Arkaroola to be mined (despite the best efforts of the mining industry), every party and independent* in SA Parliament opposed it being mined, and if the government overturned the decision, they would look stupid, lose votes and gain none.
BUT they would get a handy boost to the bank balance! 🙂
* I can’t recall the stance of Anne Bressington on this, and no one cares what she thinks anyway.
I didn’t read Phibes’ earlier comment. I was busy and just skimming. I thought he was lamenting that the U mining expansion will still go ahead. Serves me right for commenting without properly perusing somebody’s comment. Especially after I just berated someone else for doing it.
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