Pre­mier­ship suc­cess could change po­lit­i­cal land­scape

The Advertiser - - NEWS - SATUR­DAY SEPTEM­BER 30 2017

such a big event in SA’s life that it will have an af­fect. And you need only to look at our politi­cians’ be­hav­iour to re­alise they clearly see a neat nexus be­tween their own suc­cesses and the sport­ing vic­to­ries of oth­ers.

Pre­mier Jay Weather­ill, in­spired by the team swap­ping of Cabi­net col­league Martin Hamilton-Smith, was a sur­prise fea­ture in pre­mier­ship pic­tures when the Ade­laide Crows women claimed the cup in March. A de­voted Port man, who lives a mere long drop punt from Al­ber­ton Oval, clearly won’t let any pos­i­tive PR op­por­tu­nity go beg­ging.

More con­sis­tent with first prin­ci­ples was Mr Weather­ill’s sur­prise ap­pear­ance in teal at the 2013 Slow­down, just months be­fore an equally shock­ing elec­tion win. Slot­ting an im­pres­sive three goals, and avoid­ing death in a tackle from Crow Kym Koster, a gin­ger Pre­mier would later re­mark that he’d sel­dom in­spired such pub­lic ap­plause.

But Mr Weather­ill’s ri­val can’t claim to be any more pure on foot­ball loy­alty.

Born black and white and grow­ing up around Ethel­ton, Op­po­si­tion Leader Steven Mar­shall quickly be­came a Redlegs fan ahead of his cam­paign for the mar­ginal seat of Nor­wood.

It’s un­der­stand­able. De­spite all the ad­vances of so­cial in­clu­sion in re­cent decades, the re­al­ity is that some big­oted views still linger. There’s just no way that Nor­wood would elect a Mag­pie.

For­mer Lib­eral pre­mier John Olsen knows bet­ter than any­one how sport and pol­i­tics mesh in SA. Now chair­man of the SANFL, he fought and won an elec­tion in 1997 that was held just a fort­night after the Crows lifted the cup.

Speak­ing to The Ad­ver­tiser this week, Mr Olsen said the event changed SA. The pre­mier­ship, that is.

“The out­pour­ing of ex­cite­ment, en­thu­si­asm, the build­ing of con­fi­dence that we had achieved at a na­tional level was pal­pa­ble,” Mr Olsen said.

“It did a lot to re­store state pride. The State Bank fall­ing over, the de­pressed na­ture of the econ­omy, the loss of the Grand Prix to Mel­bourne and drought con­di­tions all had a damp­en­ing ef­fect on mood. The Crows’ win turned that around on a dime.

“It re­ally built a mo­ti­va­tion that SA could achieve at a na­tional level.”

The La­bor Party this week was also in nos­tal­gia mode, and went into the vaults to un­earth a cam­paign video that aired dur­ing the 1997 match, in which a youth­ful op­po­si­tion leader Mike Rann leapt on the Crows band­wagon. De­cid­edly wooden, but de­liv­er­ing the right lines, Mr Rann called the grand fi­nal “a chance to beat the Vics at their own game” and “kick a few goals for SA”.

Mr Olsen says he be­lieves the strat­egy was for Mr Rann, who was suf­fer­ing the Op­po­si­tion leader’s curse of be­ing branded re­lent­lessly neg­a­tive and a whinger, to shift that nar­ra­tive by at­tach­ing him­self to some­thing pos­i­tive. But Mr Olsen, now Lib­eral Party pres­i­dent and set to play a key back­room role in the state elec­tion cam­paign, is cool on sug­ges­tions that po­lit­i­cal re­sults will be much af­fected by the sport­ing con­test of to­day, say­ing: “I think peo­ple do sep­a­rate the two things out.”

But this match will cer­tainly change the dy­nam­ics of the next few months. A Crows win could lift SA’s mood and make vot­ers just that lit­tle bit hap­pier about main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo. A pre­dicted spend­ing boom would help sup­port the faint signs of an eco­nomic come­back that have started to show them­selves in the lat­est jobs data.

It would cer­tainly cre­ate me­dia grid­lock that would push po­lit­i­cal af­fairs of state right down the news agenda.

Sud­denly, the cam­paign starts to look a lot shorter. Take out time for post-pre­mier­ship par­ty­ing, the pre­dictable Christ­mas lull and Mad March, and a six-month cam­paign is vir­tu­ally cut in half. The prin­ci­pal po­lit­i­cal ef­fect of that is it be­comes much harder to turn around ex­ist­ing opin­ions, as op­por­tu­ni­ties to talk with vot­ers di­min­ish.

That makes it more likely the chaos of the cur­rent polls, where the pri­mary vote is frac­tured across the two big par­ties and Nick Xenophon’s SA Best, will be re­alised on elec­tion day.

But, to­day, who re­ally cares? There’s some­thing much more im­por­tant to worry about. All the rest is just de­tails for an­other day.

After some early hits on the “No” cam­paign trail, he went one step too far com­plain­ing about mu­sic star Mack­le­more’s plans to play hit

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