Doorstop interview – South Australian election result

Monday, 21 March 2022

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: I’d like to start by congratulating Peter Malinauskas and his team for the result on the weekend. I’ve known Peter for a long time and he will make a great leader of this State, and will really deliver on the priorities that people around this State were telling me that they wanted to see delivered. So things like health and education are critical issues that people are telling me they want to see action on, and I think Peter and his team will absolutely deliver that. So I’d like to extend a big congratulations. But in addition, there are some clear messages coming from the people of South Australia. The first is they don’t want a government that is obsessed by themselves. They want a government that is thinking about the future. That is what Labor put forward here in South Australia, and it is what Labor is putting forward on the national level – a positive plan talking about aspirations and how we build back better from the COVID pandemic.

Secondly, I think the results and certainly the feedback I got on the ground was clear – the people of South Australia were rejecting governments and politicians that were not listening to their lived experience, not responding to the issues that matter most of them. Things like health, things like education, things like real wages and the stagnation that real wages are having at the moment, things like cost of living. The South Australian people, and certainly everyone I spoke to, are angry that both the Liberals here in South Australia and the Liberals in Canberra have not been listening and not been responding to their everyday needs. And it is disappointing that Scott Morrison, in his reaction yesterday, has not heeded the message of South Australians. He has not listened, he has dismissed it. That is entirely in his character to have a tin ear and not listen to the messages that have been sent by voters.

Finally, what we saw in the result here in South Australia is that they rewarded Peter Malinauskas for the constructive approach he took at the height of the pandemic. Not playing politics with what is a really serious situation, but work constructively with the government at the acute time during the pandemic. But then, he put forward a different policy agenda. That’s certainly been the style of Anthony Albanese during the height of the pandemic, to work constructively, both Peter and Anthony were criticised at the time for that. But they have both put forward a future focused agenda. So I hope that the message here in South Australia is clear to the Liberal Party. It’s certainly one that Labor has been talking about. South Australians want a government that will pay attention to what’s affecting them. The bread and butter issues of health, of education, of cost of living, of decent secure jobs, of a future made here in South Australia, bringing back manufacturing to Australia. These are the types of issues that are on voters’ minds, and these are the types of things that are really important.

I think what we saw in the South Australian election is a rejection of looking inward, infighting within the Liberal Party. There’s certainly a lot of that going on in Canberra in the Liberal Party at the moment, the South Australian people rejected that. And certainly Scott Morrison, instead of being dismissive about the results here in South Australia, should carefully look at what was delivered here. People want a positive plan for the future. They want a government that is looking at their everyday needs, and that is certainly what Federal Labor is doing. It’s certainly what we will be putting forward in the weeks ahead.

REPORTER: Here the campaign message that seemed to really cut through was around fairly State-based local issues around health. Do you really think that that kind of thing will have an impact on a Federal Election that will look at much broader issues, not those really specific State ones?

RISHWORTH: Well, health was definitely a key issue in this State Election, but it’s a key issue in the Federal Election as well. We’ve just been through a pandemic where we’ve seen issues in aged care which are connected to the health system, which the Commonwealth is actually responsible for. We’ve seen continuing issues in aged care now with a Federal Government that hasn’t bothered to respond to the neglect report about the failures in aged care. And we’ve also seen, and I’ve certainly been talking with people about the out of pocket costs to go and see a doctor. The very difficult state our primary health system is in – the primary health system which is funded by Medicare, which is governed by the Federal Government. So yes, health is a big issue. But the Federal Government cannot get out of the fact that there are large parts of the health system that they are responsible for. These issues when it comes to Medicare, aged care, even the funding of our hospitals are, to some extent, the responsibility of a Federal Government. And quite frankly, if Scott Morrison thinks that he has no role in health, then he should be worried.

REPORTER: When you’re looking at how these results might reflect in a Federal Election, is it just Boothby that you think is in play? Are there other electorates that could also be in play?

RISHWORTH: In terms of the details of specific seats, obviously both Boothby and Stuart are seats that Labor has not won for a long time. In fact, Boothby is a seat that we haven’t won since the 1940s. So I’m not going to count any chickens before they hatch, we’ve got a big campaign to run. But in those seats, along with seats like mine in Kingston, I certainly did pick up on a frustration that both the State Liberals and the Federal Liberals were not listening to their concerns. So I will be continuing in the seat of Boothby, in the seat of Sturt, in outer metropolitan areas, and rural areas as well, there was a strong message sent. So look, I’m not going to go through and make predictions based on seats. But there is a message coming from those seats and other seats that they want a government that is focused on the future, and they want a government that is focused on the core responsibility of government. In recent weeks we’ve heard, for example, the Prime Minister say “well, that’s not my job” when it comes to health, when it comes to the floods in New South Wales, when it comes to not enough rapid antigen tests. Obviously, when it came to the vaccine. He continued to say it’s not my job. Well, I think that the results here in South Australia say very clearly they want a government to stand up and take on the responsibility, not try and buck pass. That’s what Peter did, and that’s what I think they want in a government, and that’s what Labor is doing.

REPORTER: So you think Sturt could also be in play?

RISHWORTH: I’m not going to make a seat by seat analysis. What I would say is there was a pretty consistent message coming right across the State. There was a strong result right across the metropolitan area, but also in other areas in rural and regional areas as well. We’ve had big swings to Labor, increased primary vote actually right across the State, as well as obviously independents that look like they will do well in regional areas. So I think the message is really clear right across the State that there needs to be a focus on those issues that are affecting families and people, South Australians, right now, and the government, Federal and State, were just not focused on those.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister has said that Anthony Albanese is not Peter Malinauskas. That this election was won based purely on State issues, and it won’t have an impact on the Federal Election. How do you respond to that?

RISHWORTH: I would say Scott Morrison once again has shown he is failing to listen. That he is so arrogant he is not even listening, not even trying to see if there’s any lessons to be learned here, or that maybe he’s not doing his job very well. I think that shows a sense of arrogance from our Prime Minister. It really shows that he is not willing to listen, not willing to change, and not willing to actually put in place things for South Australia. When you look at the issues that Peter Malinauskas ran on, whether it be health, whether it be education, whether it be a decent life here in South Australia, they are actually the same issues that Federal Labor is pursuing. They’re the same issues that Federal Labor has got policies on and is putting forward. I would also draw the comparison to being constructive. Both Anthony Albanese and Peter Malinauskas were constructive, they weren’t constantly playing politics like we see from this Prime Minister, constantly trying to make political jabs or political point scoring at the time of the pandemic. And South Australians rewarded Peter. So I think there is a lot of similarities between the issues coming out of this pandemic that people want both the State and the Federal governments to work on, and also in terms of the conduct and how both Federal and State Labor here in South Australia have worked to support the government during the most acute part of the pandemic. And finally, I would say there’s a future focus, both in Federal Labor and State Labor. Our focus is firmly on the future. People don’t want back-slapping and saying “aren’t we are great government, aren’t we so good, there’s nothing to see here, everything’s perfect”. They want politicians to be accurately describing the challenges that are ahead of us and showing how they are going to respond with a plan. We don’t have that from the Federal Liberals, or the State liberals in this last election.

ENDS

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