Mike Rann’s end-time as premier has come in a flurry of tweets and media statements typical of him.
He bragged of the BHP Indenture Agreement to protect the Arkaroola Wilderness; of turning the Adelaide desal spigot and inspecting a new rail bridge over the Onkaparinga River; of announcing an urban design partnership with the UK; of being the star turn tonight at the gala opening of the SA Film Corporation’s new studios.
Always fronting the good news, never the bad, at long last the end is nigh. It’s time to give his Twitter thumbs a rest.
Other ex-state premiers have struggled with no longer being the centre of attention. Some nasties have gloated that Rann, too, will suffer from relevance deprivation syndrome.
Of course he didn’t want to go at all. Ever. Or failing that, he wished to go at a time over which he had some control.
It didn’t work out that way. The factional hatchet men from the Right chose to terminate his career. The only pain relief on offer was a 10-week handover period to his anointed successor Jay Weatherill.
Come tomorrow, will Rann walk happily off the political stage and into obscurity? Not happily, no, without a government credit card, white car and staff running around after him.
But this is how it is going to be for Rann from now on, even if someone offers him a plum job — as a paid lobbyist, perhaps? It happens. If not, then his superannuation, based on the best six years of income, should ease the pain.
Rann presided over the SA Labor Party from 1994 until the powerbrokers decided he had lost his winning edge. The electoral dynamic changed for Rann after he was accused by a former parliamentary waitress of having an affair with her — an allegation he denied. Despite the unpleasantness, he still managed to pull off a Labor win at the last state election.
But the trust in him continued to ebb away until the powerbrokers decided the voters would not wear him again at another election. The only measure that mattered — winning — was no longer assured.
There was a pervasive sense that the electorate had seen through Rann and his endless spin. Large sections of the Adelaide media had given him the finger for the culture of hubris that had taken hold.
State opposition leader Isobel Redmond gave Rann a run for his money at the last state election. She benefited from being a cleanskin as the impression took hold that Rann was not conducting himself in a completely open manner.
Missing from the campaign was any anticipation of Rann’s retirement. He vowed to be around for the next election in 2014. Politics can be such an unforgiving business.
So now it’s Weatherill’s turn. The tone of SA politics will change. Weatherill is a less abrasive character. He has a respectful relationship with Redmond, who couldn’t stand Rann at any price and made no bones about it.
Redmond will remain the Liberal leader for the time being, though it is worth noting that she only got the position because the squabbling Liberal factions could not cut a deal on a successor to replace Martin Hamilton-Smith as leader. She was the compromise candidate and political compromises have a habit of coming apart under pressure.
During the last campaign, the Liberal slogan was Redmond is Ready. The electorate did not buy it.
She still has more than two years to sell the message that the Liberals are enthusiastically roaring back into government ready and able to do the job. But a lot can go wrong for her in two years, as it also can for Jay Weatherill as he seeks a fourth Labor term.
Weatherill will get a brief honeymoon period as people try to work him out. His biggest plus for the moment is he is not Rann.
*This article was originally published at InDaily