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Crikey says: Weatherill the premier they didn’t want

George Pell in the dock: Crikey is there. Labor hangs on in Adelaide — for now. Bernard Keane on Operation Secretive Bureaucrats. ASIC’s war chest: it’s how you use it, says Paddy Manning. The credit card privacy con. The rebirth of Babcock & Brown’s money men. The Australian’s war on Media Watch. And The Sandpit: a new place for us to play.

How’s this for some electoral maths.

There’s just one seat between Labor and the Liberals in South Australia — 22 to the Libs; 23 to Labor but short of a majority. Two independents can give either side government, but one of them, Bob Such, falls sick and may never return to Parliament. As William Bowe writes, the agonising question for independent MP Geoff Brock was thus:

… Such’s health issues left the Liberals high and dry, as Labor would have commanded a majority on the floor regardless of whether the Speaker’s chair was filled by a Liberal or by Brock.

Consequently, the alternatives facing Brock were a Labor minority government, or parliamentary deadlock and a fresh election. Much as opponents of Labor and/or minority government in general might complain that the latter is the preferable option, they have no reason to suppose the result of a second election would be any different from the first.”

Good luck with that. Brock’s decision — to accept a cabinet post and award Labor a fourth term in government — was perhaps the only viable one. A legitimate deal was done and Labor Premier Jay Weatherill wins fair and square.

But the people of South Australia — a large majority of whom voted Weatherill out — will feel cheated all the same.

Legitimacy will be Weatherill’s biggest challenge over the next four years — not in the eyes of the Parliament, but in the eyes of the people.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    And 54.9% of stalled South Australian voters didn’t “Holler for a Marshall!”.

  • 2
    drmick
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of what you think, they got 23 seats. More than anyone else including the NP/Liberal alliance. WTF is wrong with you mob at Crikey? Is your legitimacy in question as well?

  • 3
    JMNO
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t I read that the electoral borders were adjusted after the previous election to make it ‘fairer’ for the conservatives? And they still didn’t win? Does it say something about class and population distribution in SA?

  • 4
    CML
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Quite right, drmick! It is all very well to criticise, but what exactly do you want Weatherill and Brock to do? Another election could well end up with the same result.
    The current system was introduced in the early 1990’s at the request of the Coalition parties, and agreed to by Labor. Now the former want it changed again because they can’t win. For 27 years, until 1965, the Liberal premier, Tom Playford ruled SA using an outrageous ‘gerrymander’. During that time, the Labor party won up to 55% of the PRIMARY vote at some elections, but remained in opposition for all those years. I don’t ever remember the Coalition parties complaining about that!
    Suck it up, princesses!!

  • 5
    Steve
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    We don’t vote for Premier, or Prime Minister for that matter, in Australia. You vote for your local member. The ‘popular’ vote doesn’t come into the equation — and certainly doesn’t come into the equation on the basis of two party preferred.

    How did the ‘popular’ vote get counted? Did either side get more than 50% of first preference (not that it matters). This is the system. This is how it works.

    Can’t we just be grateful that the LNP doesn’t hold every state? :)

  • 6
    CML
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    @ JMNO Part of the current system here in SA states that the electoral boundaries must be adjusted every four years, usually done in the few months following the election. ‘Where practicable’ said boundaries are changed to better reflect the votes/seats outcome.

    Problem is, the Liberals have several seats in the regional and remote areas of the state where they receive 70-80% of the primary vote. They also hold a few seats in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs with large majorities. Labor does not have such luxuries, even though they do hold a few seats wihich are termed ‘safe’. Therefore, the election is fought and won in the 10-12 marginal city seats. And just about everyone here acknowledges that Labor runs a very good marginal seat campaign. Certainly that is true of the last three or four elections.

    The only way to solve this dilemna, is to introduce some form of proportional representation like they have in Tasmania. But neither of the major parties will even enfertain that idea - less power for them, I guess.

    I’m no expert, but hope that info helps to explain what is going on here!

  • 7
    AR
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    SA is a good example of “democracy” subjected to the machinations of politicians. In OZ, given our vast area but small population, 90% of which is jam-packed into, not just the SE corner but the burbs clinging to the coasts, no government can be formed except by winning the urbanoid vote, distasteful as that may be to those Born-to-Rule, hence the gerrymanders, formal Coalitions between the rural rump (Bunyip aristocracy & its erstwhile serfs) & the Big(arsed) End of town.
    Enter Mudorc with his “keep’em dumb’n’down” meeja perfected in that gumboil of a decade 80s under ThatcheReaganisms and fully deployed so successfully to convince the lumpen to vote against their own best interests.
    IF democracy is the goal, as vaunted, then it can only be achieved by D’Ondt - though the matter of MME or single constituencies brings us to either the iniquitous euroid List or Hare-Clark systems.
    Either is better than weighting and surely no-one sane, ie excluding swiveleyed tories like Minchin, would revive the 19thC FPtP.

  • 8
    Rourke
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Every government in Australia is elected despite commanding only a minority of votes, if you look at first preferences. The commentary wedded to 2PP is just facile and ignores the range of reasons people vote the way they do, including the ability of the local member to represent their interests whatever his/her party

  • 9
    Michael Cowling
    Posted Monday, 24 March 2014 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    While it’s fair enough for Crikey to have an opinion in its editorial, it’s also fair enough for readers to expect Crikey to get its Maths right. Where’s the “large majority”? Maybe Crikey means the 44.8% Lib vote. Maybe Crikey needs simpler figures: ALP 23 seats, Lib 22 seats.

  • 10
    Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    LNP voters are always being cheated-in their opinion. Not mine.

    At least and unlike their federal cousins the SA Liberals didn’t shroud the thing in secrecy.

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