How do you woo a doctor’s wife? Go nimby. That might be one interesting
lesson from the South Australian poll.

Almost a fortnight ago I wrote a piece for Adelaide’s Messenger Press suburban papers
where I said the inner city electorate of Unley would become the new frontline suburban seat. Modesty forbids me from
suggesting you take a look at how the pendulum now stands, but it’s up on
Antony Green’s site anyway.

Unley’s interesting. Most of it is in the federal electorate of Adelaide – one of just three seats the ALP
won from the Liberals in 2004. Federal Adelaide’s interesting, too. Its north contains some of the city’s ghastliest public
housing while the Unley end is full of beautiful bluestone villas and much
renovated cottages.

Naturally, the north swung to the Liberal Party while the doctors’ wives
in the posher parts handed the seat to Labor’s Kate Ellis.

I live in Unley, about 250 metres out of federal Adelaide. The sitting Liberal MP was
stepping down. I thought their candidate, David Pisoni, was a goner – and that
Labor’s Michael Keenan, a long serving local mayor, would wash in on the state-wide
tide. While some federal doctors’ wives issues – like refugees and Iraq – don’t exactly translate over to
state polls, Unley seemed behind the ALP in the culture wars.

But what matters more to doctors’ wives than refugees or George W Bush?
Their leafy suburbs. Keenan is the mayor – and Pisoni picked up a vital issue
he could use against him.

Unley’s bluestones are being bulldozed. They’re being replaced on their
large blocks by trios of aesthetically bankrupt fake federation, pseudo-Tuscan
or neo-Georgian McMansions – all decidedly NQOCD.

“Urban infill” became Pisoni’s watchword. He even had posters of
demolition sites on the polling booths.

The seat is still close. Labor has cried foul on the infill issue. But
the lesson seems to be clear: if you want to woo the doctors’ wives, go nimby.
Now we just have to see how it gets translated over to a federal level.

Peter Fray

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