State Election Campaign


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:13): Today is the last day before the winter break and it is shaping as a very cold winter for a number of people on the steps of this house, amongst other things, and for some within it. It is also a day on which the Electoral Commissioner has had her report on the 2014 election tabled.

A cursory glance at some of the recommendations has made me pause to contemplate the nature of elections and the way parties conduct themselves before an election, the manner in which they put themselves forward before an election and then the way they behave subsequent to an election if they happen to form government. Our current government gives exactly the reasons for that pause.

Recommendation 24 the Electoral Commissioner has put in her report, released publicly today, suggests in fact that in relation to misleading advertising the parliament should consider removing this provision which is held in no other state or territory in Australia, that is, misleading advertising, the misrepresentation of what a party is that puts itself before an election and behaves in an entirely different way after an election.

I can appreciate that a government that got the votes of about one in three South Australians before being able to form a majority in this house might perhaps not really have believed that it had much merit in the platform it put forward or the policies it took to an election, but it does seem to me to be a reasonable expectation that the South Australian people might have that some of the more bold and radical ideas the government would seek to implement might at least have had some basis in the presentation that party made before an election.

I am thinking back to those people who are going to be suffering through this cold winter as they sleep on the steps of this house to present their point of view that the government should not be closing the Repatriation General Hospital—a government almost all of whose members stood by former premier Mike Rann (the now Ambassador to Italy) as he pledged that a Labor government would never sell the Repat. After 100-something days and 100,000-something signatures on their petition, I commend those people on the steps of the South Australian parliament for the work they are doing for the respect that they seek from this government.

If you are going to do something that is so bold, so radical and so completely against the direction that has been presented by a party throughout its entire history—namely, that they would be standing up for veterans and that they would be supplying the health services they deserve—frankly, I think that the government should have taken that to an election. They should have presented it before an election and they should not act on it until after the next election. It is something that they should take to an election. It is something they will take to the election if they do it, and they deserve to be condemned for that behaviour.

Why would a government do this? It is of a piece with so many other things this government has done: say one thing before an election, do another thing after an election. It is because this government has lost its moral compass. It is because this Labor Party has lost its moral compass. It is not the only thing they have done. It is not the first time that they have acted in this sort of way—for example, the way that this government has taken the axe to the Glenside hospital over a series of years; the way that this government tried to cover up the contamination at Clovelly Park; and, in fact, the way that the government behaved during the last couple of election campaigns.

We remember the 'Put your family first' T-shirts espoused by the Minister for Tourism in his seat and other members in their seats before the 2010 election, misrepresenting to voters the presentation that those volunteers were making. We remember the 'Can you trust Habib?' flyers put out in the member for Elder's electorate, which were a disgusting form of political misrepresentation. I know that so many members of the Labor Party were privately very ashamed of them, yet only a couple of interstate members have publicly had the gumption to come out against their party and label it for the racism that it is.

This is a government that is ready to show its moral colours by jacking up water prices, electricity prices and utility prices with no reflection on the cost that that is going to have on the cost of living of everyday South Australian. These colours are shown even more by the Premier's recent determination, not they ignoring what they said before an election but saying something different after an election. Before an election, we were told there would be no change to the GST. Even just a couple of weeks ago, the Treasurer said that the only people talking about changing the GST were the government's political opponents. Last week, the Premier was apparently all in favour of raising the cost of living for everyday South Australians by hundreds of dollars a year through the raising of the GST.

It reminds me of George Costanza. This is really a George Costanza government and very much in the frame of the famous George Costanza line: 'Just remember, it is not a lie if you believe it.'