Whilst there are a surprisingly large number of political turncoats,
the soon-to-be defeated South Australian member for Mitchell, Kris
Hanna, has surely set some sort of record by quitting two political
parties in the one term.

Hanna was a member of the Bolkus Left
but defected to the Greens in 2002. He was defeated by fellow Green
Mark Parnell in the preselection battle to head the upper house ticket
and responded by petulantly quitting the party altogether last week.

Hanna stands absolutely no chance in Mitchell running as an
independent, but has to go through the motions to qualify for that
precious life-time pension.

Hanna told The Australian last week that his independent
candidacy was now “beyond left and right.” Hmmm, when you’ve spent eight
years promoting yourself as God’s gift to the left, but alienated every
left winger in the electorate by quitting both the Labor Party and the
Greens, perhaps “beyond the pale” is more appropriate.

Besides, he’s hardly going to draw support from the Right given the
abuse he’s heaped on all things conservative over the years. Given the
inevitability of defeat, one of the few points of interest is what
happens to an estimated $6,000 of Green election funding that has
already been committed? Will Hanna hand it back or do the Greens just
have to cop a write-off?

Hanna’s case strengthens the argument that South Australia, not
Queensland, is actually the political turn-coat capital of Australia,
although historian reckons that title belongs to Victoria.

Hanna, Peter Lewis and Bob Such are all independents having been
members of parties at the start of their SA parliamentary careers.
Mitch Williams was elected as an independent in 1997, but joined the
Liberals the following year, having quit the party to run against dodgy
Dale Baker three weeks before the election. Terry Cameron’s situation
is described on your website already.

Even
more amazingly, however, is the unique situation of Rory McEwen and
Karlene Maywald, who are sort of Clayton’s Turncoats. While still
officially independent and National respectively, their membership of
Cabinet is surely of greater significance than their party
affiliations. Wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Rann Government, no
worries.

One suspects this might not last if the Rann land-slide materialises as expected next month.

Peter Fray

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