Crikey readers can do with some churching and the Reverend Cleophus James is here with the good news on what is unfolding in South Australia as Mike Rann girds his loins for the top job.

During the latter stages of World War 2 Hitler’s propaganda machine regularly promised the German people a new wonder weapon that would destroy the allies and ensure victory and the greater glory of the German people. Whenever I read history, I always wondered why they even bothered. They knew they couldn’t deliver, so what was the point?

Now I know. Over the last two weeks, I have counselled many a faltering Labor believer in SA. Their hearts yearn for a sign of hope, some glimmer of fortune that will justify the faith they held as they wandered through the wilderness of opposition.

Things are grim for the ALP in SA. Rann is struggling to be heard. The ALP is hammering away at privatisation. They have spent the last week and a half (it seems longer) pointing out just what has been privatised and the fact that Kerin, for all his country charm, was part of it. It all seems a bit ho hum as voters shrug their shoulders and say “so what”.

Now the word filtering down from on high promises a new wonder weapon. Now I know why the Germans did it. It gives everyone’s morale a boost. It makes people think that those at the top might just know what they are doing and we might still win. Everyone works harder for just a little while longer.

By all accounts there will be a change in focus this week, moving to health that will have specific policies, details and costings attached. The messages will be much more tightly targeted and followed up more personally. Even some of my trusted sources, who are more sceptical than most, seem to think it a workable and useful strategy. Let’s hope so.

While we are on the subject of thuggery, one of the daughters of former Ralph Clarke mistress and candidate for the upper house, Edith Pringle, has reported a car load of men yelling insults about her mother as she was walking along the street. “Slut” and “whore” were included in what is obviously a rich vocabulary. She has no idea who it was, but thought they might have taken the “Ralph Clarke for Enfield” sign from the top of their car.

Other reports from SA suggest that Mike Rann’s office were furiously lobbying Crean’s office in an attempt to stall Crean’s speech on the refugees. The refugee crisis is threatening to overshadow yet another election. Just goes to show how seriously the rest of the country takes South Australia. You poor bastards.

In the ACT ALP, Branch Secretary Mike Kerrisk, late of National Office fame has resigned from his post to work in Crean’s office. It appears likely that both the left and the right will be running candidates with former staffer to Arch Bevis, David Tansey the most likely candidate from the right.

Well that’s about all for now. If you have something you would like to confess, I can be contacted at: [email protected]


Now, let’s look at the Rev’s previous column.

Can Rann win?

It’s time I visited the confessional. Last week, I wrote about the battle for the SA seat of Enfield between John Rau and Ralph Clarke. It contained a line that, on reflection, I should have omitted. I referred to a rumour about Rau’s parentage. To my knowledge, it is just that a rumour but it was wrong of me to reproduce it here. That sort of comment isn’t even a reflection on Rau at all and thus should not have been included. I would like to apologise to Rau and anyone else that may have drawn offence from that line. If commentators can’t admit mistakes, I suppose we can’t expect anyone else to. Everything else stands.

“But of that day and hour, no-one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36

That’s Matthew having a chat about the return of Our Lord to Earth. Many in the SA ALP are thinking the same thing about an Election Day victory.

A mate of mine in the Liberal Party has a theory about the quantitative, published opinion polls. He believes that they are useless because they are attempting to measure something that doesn’t exist. That is to say they are attempting to measure people’s voting intention when, in fact, they have no voting intention.

He thinks that asking people how they would vote if an election was held this Saturday is like asking someone “if you were buying a boat this weekend, what boat would you buy?”

People will always give an answer based on the boat they dream about but, in all likelihood, it would have no relation to the boat they would actually buy when the time actually comes around and after they have considered what they need and what they can afford.

He argues that people only make genuine political decisions when they have to i.e. at election time. Anything else is meaningless.

Mike Rann must be hoping my mate is right. He’s behind in the polls, big time if you believe Newspoll, and has a lot of ground to make up.

The SA ALP is still a bit maudlin after the Fed election and trying to shake off a bit of depression-induced lethargy. Having said that, things are starting to gain pace and now that they’re finally off and running, people sound a bit more optimistic.

Rann’s up against it. He has never been the most popular opposition leader (few ever are) and no one I’ve run into seems to have any great love for him. Just over a year ago, there were genuine leadership rumblings and the beginnings of a coup but it never gained momentum and died a slow death.

Rann replaced Lynn Arnold as Labor’s leader in 1994 the year after the State Bank election reduced the ALP to a short cricket team. He took it on the condition that he got two shots at an election. All of the factions agreed at the time and the deal was done. In the end, it seems that the two major factions decided to honour the deal and give him the second shot. It would be ironic if integrity led to an election defeat.

Huge question marks remain over Rann’s electability. A couple of years ago, I was out running with another Liberal mate of mine and we were discussing our respective leaders. The upshot of it was that they were glad that we had Rann and we were glad that they had Olsen. Sigh. Early last year, an ALP backbencher summed it up beautifully: “Whoever changes leader first will win the election.”

Having said that, a leadership coup usually needs a single, obvious contender and, in the ALP, there wasn’t one. Kevin Foley’s personable and uncomplicated style would have scored best with voters but some caucus members might have preferred John Hill, a graduate from the Mike Rann School of Narcissism. Deputy Leader, Annette Hurley, would have had supporters as well and, if all that isn’t complicated enough, a fair few would have wanted to stay with Rann.

Anyway, it’s too late now. If Labor loses, the leadership will almost certainly come down to Hill and Foley. Hurley will have probably disappeared from the Parliament after displaying a ton of guts to move from a safe Labor seat to contest the marginal Liberal-held seat of Light.

But I’m not writing Rann off. He may not be Mr Popularity but he is an experienced and effective campaigner. And he loves it. Those around him have commented on a noticeable lift in his mood since the election was called. Rann is desperate to win and, unlike Kim Beazley, he will be as ruthless as he needs to be. He is sharp, cutting and not too heavily weighed down by ideology.

Rob Kerin is quite likeable and, unlike Olsen, seems happy to be guided by his minders. By all reports, Chief of Staff, Chris Kenny, is finding him much more malleable. He’ll do what he’s told, when he’s told, where he’s told and when you’ve got the likes of Mark Textor, Lynton Crosby and Graham Jaeschke doing the telling, that’s probably no bad thing.

Will it be enough to overcome the fact that he is uneasy in the spotlight and seems to perform poorly under pressure? Who knows? Will the ALP find the right issues to put him under pressure with? That seems to be the key. Put Kerin under pressure and see if he cracks.

May the Lord bless you and keep you all.

Rev. Cleophus James.


Now, let’s look at the Rev’s earlier piece on one of the tackier battles in the SA election.

Enfield: The Battle Of The Duds (14 Jan)

By Rev Cleophus James.

“The sluggard is like a lump of dung; whoever touches him wipes his hands… Be not the companion of a brute; Beware of him lest you have trouble…”

The Book of Sirach. Chapter 22 verses 2 & 12/13

Two verses. One each to admirably describe the two major contenders for the state seat of Enfield in the forthcoming South Australian Election.

John Rau – the official Labor candidate and Ralph Clarke – the usurped and now “Independent Labor” candidate.

Of course, the Libs will also play a crucial role in this ballot. Unless Rau can get over the line with 50% of the first preference votes, the ALP stands a big chance of losing the seat to Clarke if the Libs see fit to preference that way. Up until now, Enfield has been a safe Labor seat.

The chances of Rau getting the 50% by himself are pretty low. Clarke has a high profile after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his mistress a few years back and taking the ALP to court.

After he was arrested, Ralph knew that the party would be after his pre-selection. His survival strategy included making himself a rallying point for Labor Party non-conformists. (Non-conformists being very ugly, fifty-something whingers who habitually oppose whichever group or groups happen to have the most power in the Labor Party at any given time.) Clarke became their champion by taking the SA ALP to court to settle disputes over the Party’s rules. (He’ll try to argue differently, but ask anyone in SA who had anything to do with it and they’ll tell you it was because of the ‘Edith Factor’ [Edith Pringle was Clarke’s mistress].)

After all that, Ralph must be thanking his lucky stars that, reports coming out of SA say that Rau is the laziest candidate in a long time. One senior SA MP has said: “…anyone that does anything to assist Rau has done more work on his campaign than he has.”

Like many of the more forgettable people in the SA ALP, Rau used to be a member of the Party’s Centre-Left faction (along with Clarke). He went over to the Right with former Senator John Quirke after the demise of the CL in SA. He is a man who is convinced of his own genius and it is surprising that he doesn’t introduce himself as “John E. Rau – Super Genius” (apologies to Warner Bros., and his middle initial is R) He is also rumoured to be the love child of former federal ALP polly, Clyde Cameron.

He ran for the Federal seat of Hindmarsh in ’93, lost, and has never been the same since. His greatest single talent seems to be the ability to piss off anyone that has much to do with him.

My SA contacts tell me no-one likes doing any work for him and by all accounts, there is much half arsed work going into Enfield on his behalf at the moment.

Clarke on the other hand is a one time official of the Australian Services Union. He is a bloke who loves a beer or two. He and former Senator (and former state MP) John Quirke (known as The Penguin in some circles in SA) were mates until Clarke decided to dud Quirke and run for deputy leader of the State ALP over the top of The Penguin.

When Clarke was arrested for allegedly assaulting his mistress, Quirke “cried ‘havoc’ (or at least ‘WAAARK’) and let slip the dogs of war.”

Somehow a complete copy of the Police File fell into the Penguins lap (as well as others) and it has been spread far and wide. A hospital report states that Edith alleges that at one time he pushed her to the ground and then kicked her while she down. In the record of interview with the Police, Clarke admits to smacking Edith on the bum with an open hand ‘to get her to calm down’.

“Q. (police) To get up yeah. You’ve put your knee on her back.

A. (Ralph) No.

Q. Across both her legs and an arm, sorry, across her back to hold her down.

A. No, no, no. She- I turned her over on her side and I just gave her a couple of- Well, as I say, five or six whacks across the backside with an open hand to try and you know- Yeah in anger, but also to get her to calm down, like you know, stop this. …”

– Record of Interview, Police V Ralph Desmond Clarke, 13th May 1998, Pg 13.

Clarke has caused trouble for the ALP ever since, most notably by taking the party to court over branch stacking.

Normally, you’d expect to Libs to give the ALP a bit of grief and preference to Clarke but they’ve got troubles of their own with former members running as independents such as Peter Lewis (Hammond) and Bob Such (running in Fisher against oncer Federal Lib MP ‘sourpuss’ Susan Jeans). The Libs will want to shore these two seats up and might just do a preference deal with the ALP in Enfield in return for Hammond and/or Fisher.

Who’ll win? Who knows? Who cares? Mike Rann needs Rau to win, but neither of them deserve it and for most people it’s a matter of whom you like least. For mine I’d rather see a lazy bastard than someone who has never been acquitted of chick bashing (The DPP withdrew the action after Ms Pringle admitted to sleeping with Clarke again after the charges had been laid).

Enfield was and remains, the battle of the duds.

God Bless.

Rev. Cleophus James