A Covid Form Guide to the South Australian Election
What the sleepy political backwater of the state of South Australia can tell us about Covid and politics globally
South Australia is seen by the rest of the continent as a bit of a sleepy backwater politically but the upcoming state election on March 19th could change that perception (and provide pointers for the federal election due in May). For all those South Australians who are done with the Covid comic opera and all its farcical business and employment restrictions, vaxx coercion and mask mandates, something could be brewing in two weeks time here in SA. So, what is the electoral state of play, Covid-wise, and what are the contestants saying about Covid policy? Will the virus madness win or will sanity make important gains?
Labor will win
The latest Newspoll shows Labor ahead 53%-47% for the House of Assembly after distribution of preferences. Peter Malinauskas, the Labor Opposition Leader, is preferred premier by 46%-39% over the incumbent Liberal, Steven ‘Marshmallow’ Marshall (so nicknamed because of his lack of any steely commitment to any discernible principles like liberty and freedom). Malinauskas (former head of the Shoppies union), with only a 31% disapproval rating, is really only disliked by rusted-on Liberal voters, whereas Marshall’s 47% disapproval score speaks to a wider disenchantment. By all conventional psephological tea-leaf-readings, this points to a Labor government in two weeks time.
The Marshmallow and Covid policy
Some of the Marshmallow’s waning popularity stems from public disquiet by the state’s Covid hysterics (and we have plenty of those) who are not happy about loosening any of their chains any time soon as an ultra-cautious Marshall eases selected restrictions with all the swiftness of a snail after a heavy lunch of Yates Snail Bait. The government’s decision to reopen SA's borders (yes, they had been closed for two years), against SA Health advice, was disliked by 51% of voters fearing a flood of the glorified cold called Omicron.
Marshall is also being squeezed, however, by a growing anti-restriction/anti-mandate mood amongst those who have been on the “it’s endemic, let’s just live with the virus” page for some time now. Marshall, a ‘Moderate’ by faction and moderate by nature, has nevertheless been responsible for all the terrible damage from the state’s wild experiment with “beating the virus” (as he ominously put it after the absurd ‘curve-flattening’ prelude) which he has inflicted through lockdowns, ‘social distancing’ restrictions, venue capacity limits, quarantining the healthy through a bogus testing regime, school closures, bans on singing and dancing, bans on drinking whilst standing, and all the other arbitrary, ever-changing, illogical and ludicrous rules that have sought to micromanage what we are allowed, and not allowed, on pain of criminalisation, to do. Need a colonoscopy in South Australia to screen for potential bowel cancer? You must be fully vaccinated, present two negative PCRs and wear the goofy mask – if not, you get to die from any undetected colorectal tumours.
It has all been so infantilising and humiliating, so business-crushing and job-shedding, and Marshall has been at the helm of it all either directly, or, in his preferred modus operandi, at arm’s length by a Pontius-Pilate-like washing-his-hands-of-it way as he has allowed businesses and services to mandate whatever the hell they like (‘get the vaxx or get the axe’ mandates, vaxx passports, masks, etc.). The timid Marshall is hostage to the Covid hysterics – he is too fearful of ending restrictions too quickly and thus being accused of recklessness and losing votes to a probably more pro-restriction Labor.
Marshall also has a problem with his madwoman-in-the-attic impersonator, the state’s Chief Public Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, who has frequently ventured downstairs to deliver demented ravings like "Duck and do not touch that football", or that pizza box) because the virus will get you, whilst scolding potential New Year’s Eve revellers to have the "absolute quietest New Year’s Eve anybody has ever had". This is the ‘Professor’ who, when people question the harshness of her measures, replies with Winnie the Pooh wisdom in her condescending, kindy teacher’s way:
“Piglet says to Pooh, ‘Pooh, how will we know if our pandemic plan is working?’ And Pooh says to Piglet, ‘Because they’ll all say we overreacted’. And Piglet says, ‘So, does that mean when we’re right, everyone will say we’re wrong?’ And Pooh said, ‘Welcome to public health, Piglet’.
Intellectually insulting, and twee, together. Having a fully-fledged neurotic in the top health job is tragi-comic.
A Covid Form Guide for the elections
All this has got on a lot of people’s wicks after two years. From a stellar approval rating in the 80+% region for how the Marshall government was handling Covid a year ago, that has now slumped to somewhere in the 50%, or lower, region. People are moving on, Steve – and around one in five of them are parking their votes with parties that better reflect their disenchanted mood on Covid policy and its political managers. In polling for the Legislative Council (where minor party votes really matter) by the Australia Institute, fully 17% of voters (in addition to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation with 5% of the vote) are giving their first preference to Independents/Others.
It is likely that all the fervent pro-restriction voters are politically invested in either the Liberals who have had carriage of the restriction policies or with Labor - Malinauskas has provided bipartisan support, saying, just three months ago, “under the leadership of Grant Stevens and Nicola Spurrier, South Australia has had an outstanding health response to the Covid-19 pandemic” [Stevens is the SA Police Commissioner in overall charge as State Co-Ordinator for the policing of the madwoman’s delusions of virus control – the unelected Stevens has now overseen the state for longer than the elected Premier].
The Clive Palmer & Craig Kelly’s UAP is not running in the SA election but there are a number of other pro-freedom parties which are garnering the Covid-weary vote. Below is a form guide for their prospects in order of profile and vote magnetism.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation
One Nation’s form on Covid must be rated as excellent. The party is solidly against lockdowns, vaxx mandates, vaxx passports, borders closures, the whole Covid policy idiocy. They want a federal Royal Commission, one that gets to the heart of what has been the greatest and most disastrous public policy failure in generations. Pauline walks the talk by participating in the grass roots protests.
Family First is on the Christian right of the political spectrum and has been relaunched by two former Labor ministers (Jack Snelling and Tom Kenyon) and one former Liberal MP (Deepa Mathew). Family First is opposed to mandatory vaccination, vaccine passports, lockdowns and “restrictions to our liberty”. They oppose increasing the government debt to fund the lunatic expenditure levels on failed pandemic measures. They want to see a whole-of-society risk assessment for any future pandemic policy response. They want rigorous testing to “assess the Covid vaxx safety and efficacy”. “Above all”, Family First says we “must be vigilant that the COVID-19 pandemic is not used as an opportunity to entrench unwarranted or unjustified government intrusion in our lives”. All boxes ticked.
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats (or ‘Liberal Democrats - less government more freedom’, to give them their full electorally-registered name) fly the banner of “individual liberty, free markets and small government in South Australia”. They want a state “free from Covid alarmism” which encompasses ending school closures, lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations, vaccine passports, mask mandates, border closures, contact tracing and QR codes, mandatory testing and self-isolation. They want an end to the state of emergency which has allowed all these measures to be undemocratically imposed (South Australia’s Covid State of Emergency has been continually renewed, every 30 days, since early 2020).
One sticking point, however, is that the Lib-Dems believe that private property owners and businesses should be able to set their own conditions of entry and conditions of employment. This could mean that the Lib-Dem post-Covid landscape could look very much like the current Covid landscape with some businesses requiring vaxx passports for customers, vaxx mandates for employees and masks for all. When Marshall off-loaded such decisions onto the private sector, many businesses adopted them with rapidity (I had to scramble to find a new dentist after mine went all apartheid on me). Granting such liberty to business owners is a license for them to discriminate – we are not talking Christian cake-makers here whose conscience precludes them baking a ‘gay cake’, we are talking heath and other essential services.
The Lib-Dem’s policy of businesses setting their own rules is also scientifically illiterate. Vaxx mandates and passports don’t work because the vaxxes don’t work to stop infection or transmission, so the mandates and passports are merely punishment theatre designed to coerce uptake, on behalf of the government, of an experimental gene-therapy drug under the guise of a bogus ‘Covid safe’ marketing gimmick. Even if the vaxxes worked as initially advertised, their policy accessories (mandates and passports) still remain unethical by forcing a medical intervention on people (at the risk of job loss or service denial), a decision which should be the voluntary choice of individuals free from state, or corporate, pressure. This aspect of the Lib Dem’s Covid policy is neither liberal nor democratic. More work needed, team.
Australian Family Party
The Australian Family Party is the ideological property of former (failed) Liberal candidate, and (successful) Family First candidate, Bob Day. They only have one sentence on Covid on their website but what a gloriously direct and simple sentence: “The Australian Family Party opposes vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, social distancing, masks, Perspex screens, lockdowns, dobbing in your neighbours, discrimination based on medical status, QR codes and the testing and quarantining of healthy people”. Yes, indeed!
SA Best is basically the old Senator Nick (‘No Pokies’) Xenophon party minus Nick Xenophon. They applaud the Liberals’ economy-strangling and liberty-crushing management of the pandemic (“those in charge of making extremely tough decisions did a great job under enormously difficult circumstances”) but at least they want to see a state Royal Commission into the handling of the pandemic, including examining the wider societal impact of any pandemic response on “our economy, industry, jobs, education, aged & disabled care, law & order and lifestyle choices”. So, better than the Liberals or Labor (a fairly low bar to clear, admittedly) but the party is basically on board with the whole thrust of shutting down society and disrupting lives as part of ‘pandemic-proofing’ the state. The Ex X-Men still poll at 5%.
The Reject Bin
The Nationals in SA are just Liberals with Akubra hats whilst the rest of the ‘Others’ have nothing at all to say on Covid or its response, indicating their acceptance of the last two years of stunning, damaging nonsense. Steer well clear of the Animal Justice Party who, in Victoria, were part of the crucial Senate bloc of minor parties who shored up Dan Andrews’ dictatorship throughout.
So, there are plenty of good options for the voter who wants an end to all the Covid baloney. Bipartisan Covid orthodoxy will still win overall, however, but as a stump box for a return to virus sanity, economic health and the old Australia we all liked so much, a seat or two in the upper house for the anti-restriction/mandate vote, will not go astray.
The only tricky bit will be deciding who to put last – Liberal or Labor/Greens. Good luck with choosing between Dumb and Dumber, Mad and Madder, Bad and Badder.