South Australia’s peak
motor group, the RAA, is facing payback after it was one of the few major lobby
groups to stick its head up during the election. Victorious Premier Mike Rann told
the media on Sunday that the government would reconsider its relationship, saying “on
some days I was wondering whether we were running against the Liberals or the
RAA.”

Maybe that’s because the Liberals
weren’t that good at running a campaign. They had to withdraw so many ad
pamphlets because of spelling errors and unprovable claims.

The RAA came unstuck with its
electronic variable signs which the electoral commission declared were too
large and “political”. But for the most part, the RAA did
what it does every election – makes demands and extracts commitments from both parties,
holds news conferences, releases policies and put up posters.

But notably, the RAA was
virtually the lone lobby group. Others were very quiet. Who can forget the full page ads from
BusinessSA in the last state election? During this election, some key sources
within the parliamentary Liberal party were very unhappy with BusinessSA.

But they weren’t the only ones
keeping a relatively low profile – The Advertiser today says the Australian
Medical Association and Farmers Federation gave qualified support to Labor. Meanwhile, the RAA gave nobody, not even the
Liberals, direct support.

Managing Director John Fotheringham has issued a statement saying: “We have previously congratulated the
State Government on its commitment towards the South
Road upgrade and push to improve the
north-south transport link, and over the last four years the RAA has supported
the great majority of road safety initiatives proposed by the State
Government.”

The truth is relations between the
government and RAA soured last year when the lobby group criticised the
decision to spend an extra $70 million on the Port
River
bridges to make draw bridges. The RAA said the money was best spent
elsewhere and not necessarily on roads. The government didn’t like that.

In today’s paper, Transport Minister
Patrick Conlon says the government will continue to work “constructively…
with the RAA but should ask itself how political it wanted to be…it is a
dangerous territory to be in.”

The Liberals Iain Evans describes this as
“bullying and outrageously arrogant.” Meanwhile, the Libs are learning how to
spell RAA in time for the next election.

Peter Fray

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