“I know that for a lot of South Australians they thought that I was too arrogant, that I was too much of a bully-boy, too much outspoken, too much direct, too strong in my approach. I apologise for that if that’s upset people.”
The apology is Kevin Foley’s, in announcing that he will formally step down this afternoon as South Australia’s Treasurer and deputy Premier. People can accept the apology at face value, or not, but as far as a mea culpa is concerned it’s too little too late for Foley and is largely irrelevant since he’s on the way out.
The form of words, though, could haunt him when Foley leaves politics and goes looking for work in the private sector.
It is hard to imagine a company or business that tolerates bullying or willingly takes on board a potential HR nightmare. The expectations and standards that are tolerated in politics are different from those in the real world.
Foley will remain in state cabinet until he leaves parliament before the next state election in three years. He apparently will hold portfolio responsibility for the mining and the defence sectors. The impression, it seems, is he has been allowed to cherry-pick the responsibilities he prefers as part of the deal for standing aside as deputy and treasurer to make way for John Rau and Jack Snelling respectively.
Does Foley intend to work for either the mining or defence in his post-political career? It’s a reasonable question, given the potential conflict interest in his portfolios between now and then. If he is aiming for a job in either area, then he should go now.
In other moves, Police Minister Michael Wright and Planning Minister Paul Holloway will also step down at a special meeting of caucus this afternoon. Bernard Finnigan, parliamentary secretary to the Premier, is expected to replace Holloway in cabinet and Wright’s placement could be backbencher Tom Kenyon.
Deputy Speaker Chloe Fox reportedly will miss out, meaning there will be no female members of the Right in the cabinet. Just three of the 15 state cabinet positions are filled by women.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, in his column yesterday in the Sunday Mail, said SA would benefit from having a female premier, singling out the potential candidates as opposition leader Isobel Redmond, and Labor’s Chloe Fox and Grace Portolesi. It’s a glaring gap in the Labor structure.
On the broader political scene, when state parliament resumes tomorrow — the second of a four-year electoral cycle — state politics has become a coalition of the cautious. Labor’s Right controls today’s Cabinet changes and the Liberal’s Right runs the opposition strategy of “sitting quietly and hoping no-one notices”.
Labor has given itself plenty of time to set itself for the next election. The Libs look to have decided on a policy-free approach for the immediate period ahead, hoping for a Labor implosion.
The one clear outcome, now that Labor’s political jostles are temporarily coming to an end, is the Good Ship South Australia remains under the firm grip of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association at the helm.
But the shoppies’ work is not done yet — a Rann succession has still to be organised.
*This editorial was originally published at Indaily, a free independent online newspaper in Adelaide