SA becomes key election battleground

By Leith van Onselen

The Abbott Government could rue the day that it let the car assembly industry shutter.

With South Australian unemployment shooting for the stars:

ScreenHunter_8695 Aug. 07 08.47

Full-time jobs growth and hours worked contracting at a rate of knots:

ScreenHunter_8696 Aug. 07 08.47
ScreenHunter_8697 Aug. 07 08.49

And the closure of Holden in 2017 likely to cost tens-of-thousands of jobs, independent senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, is looking to cash-in and has set-up a new party that plans to run in all 11 lower house seats at the next year’s federal election. From The ABC:

[The] Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) would be drawn from the political centre.

“The ambition is to run in all 11 lower house seats and if the election is held some time next year I expect that’s what we’ll have,” he said…

“Once Holden leaves South Australia as a car maker at the end of 2017 there’ll be a huge void that will be left. There are something like 25,000 jobs that are at stake conservatively,” he said.

He warned that unless the void was filled with new innovative businesses in the auto supply chain there would be massive job losses in South Australia and in Victoria…

Australian National University Emeritus Professor John Warhurst, who was born and educated in South Australia, thinks the NXT alliance is a possible threat to some relatively safe seats.

“If he and his team standing in the lower house are polling anywhere near how he himself has managed to poll in the Senate, you know in the mid-20 per cent range, then he’s a threat to both sides of major party politics,” he said…

“For a state that sees its place in the federation under challenge, and being relegated to one of the also rans in the federation to have a major decision like that was a major slap in the face for South Australians,” he said.

South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill, has labelled Xenophon an “opportunist” but warns that the Abbott Government faces “carnage” at the next election, especially if it doesn’t give South Australia the submarines contract:

It will be carnage for Liberals in South Australia and I think they know it. It doesn’t really matter what they do. If they don’t get this decision right [i.e. submarines], the people of South Australia will respond, I think, very assertively at the ballot box. And why wouldn’t they? I mean, here’s a state that’s crying out for jobs. I mean, we -we’re a proud manufacturing state…

I’ve got a lot of time for Nick, but Nick’s an opportunist. I mean, he outflanks us on the left and the right depending on where the opportunity presents itself.

Opportunist or not, Xenophon is set to create more headaches for the Abbott Government.

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  1. Nick’s an opportunist. I mean, he outflanks us on the left and the right depending on where the opportunity presents itself.

    He probably is an opportunist, but outflanking his rivals on the left and the right sounds a lot more like he’s simply a lot better at politics than they are.

    we -we’re a proud manufacturing state

    One character away from reading ‘we were a proud manufacturing state‘ which seems very fitting.

    • South Australian premier, Jay Weatherill, has labelled Xenophon an “opportunist”

      Cant believe this whiny statement could be taken seriously. WTf is he smoking.
      Seriously he said this with a straight face ?

      Hardly opportunistic if the current set of leeches purporting to represent us just throw it into their opponents laps.

  2. south aussie..

    ‘it’s heaps good’

    serves them right for going for the power and crowbots

    at least they still have awesome vilis pies and pie floaters

  3. NXT has the ring of a very toxic chemical.
    Will open vintage bottle of whisky when Pine loses in landslide. The bulging eyes, the bluster, the cries of retribution.

  4. I’m sure the 4 arsemen of the abbottalypse currently waylaying innocent Canning residents will swoop over there soon enough to buy an opportunity of their own…………

    • ‘………4 arsemen of the Abbotalypse…..’ what a terrible and terrific and true phrase!
      We’ll articulated Nudge!

  5. A couple of article from earlier in the year which may be of interest …

    Within an Australian On-Line Opinion article late January this year, South Australia’s ‘unmentionable’ problems , Malcolm King, an associate director of DEEWR Labour Market Strategies based in Canberra (with other roles too), provided a snapshot of the sick economy of South Australia …

    … and …

    • From the above …

      • State GDP growth is languishing at 1.3 per cent. The economy may grow at about 1.25-1.50 per cent for the foreseeable future.

      • Real unemployment – not the ridiculous ABS methodology – is around 12 per cent and climbing. In parts of Adelaide’s northern suburbs, real youth unemployment is over 40 per cent.

      • In 2013, 309 out of 5210 Business SA members closed down or became insolvent. In 2014, that figure dropped to 285.

      • In 1985, around 100,000 people were working in manufacturing in South Australia. In 2013 that figure had fallen to 74,000 and is dropping. The decline of the manufacturing sector is highly problematic as it ‘bleeds’ in to the transport and warehousing sectors.

      • The State Government has about 75,000 full-time (equivalent) public servants on its payroll. They and their families comprise a powerful voting bloc against change.

      • Since 2006, Greater Adelaide median household weekly rents up have exploded from $165 per week to $250 – an increase of 51.5 per cent. Median monthly household mortgage repayments have increased from $1,083 in 2006 to $1,600 – a jump of 44.5 per cent. Yet wages have only risen over that period by 17 per cent.

      • Salaries in SA are on average $7000 less per annum than in the eastern states yet we pay some of the highest utility bills in the world.

      • Liquidity is so low that Adelaide concert goers ‘hedge’ on ticket prices, forcing promoters to frequently cancel major international acts.

      • From 1984-2014 about 80,477 Croweaters fled the state permanently. Most were in there 20s and 30s. On average, between 20-30,000 South Australians actually leave the state every year and mainly lesser skilled immigrants make up the shortfall. This has contributed to a raft of psychosocial problems, such as underwhelming leadership capabilities and the creation of regressive and under-performing organisations.

      • … yet the SA State Govt is committed to stopping normal urban expansion …

        DPTI – Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure South Australia – Planning Reform in South Australia

        … extract … remarkably strangling supply “creates opportunities for housing choice” ! …

        The government is committed to renewing and reinvigorating our urban environments and improving the lifestyle of all South Australians. By reducing urban sprawl and focusing on new development within our existing urban footprint, we will help create opportunities for housing choice, reduce costs to new homebuyers, protect our iconic agricultural landscapes, ensure jobs are available and accessible, and reduce the burden on taxpayers for future infrastructure.

      • SA State Govt is committed to stopping normal urban expansion

        Probably quite prescient as the exodus when the automotive factories shutter will mean they’re going to need to bulldoze a heap of abandoned houses and properties as it is, excepting China gets a raging hunger for these famous pie floaters.

      • The SA govt is committed to maintaining the price of some of the most expensive vacant residential land per sqm in the country and a VR of 1.9%, while having the worst unemployment rate in the country

      • “• From 1984-2014 about 80,477 Croweaters fled the state permanently. Most were in there 20s and 30s. ”


        This is me and my and most of my friends. A whole generation of South Australians moved out – mostly to Victoria, but also to London, Sydney, NY etc. Pretty much anyone with a degree and a bit of initiative. It is a bit scary going back. The population is old.

        I have no idea what the solution is – but closing the manufacturing industry to sign a couple of meaningless free trade agreements was NOT the solution.

      • Hugh PavletichMEMBER

        Glamb … Your comments are much appreciated. Thank you.

        Culture (in the broad sense) is THE critical factor, as I see it.

        Why does South Australia lack an ‘opportunity culture” ?

  6. Terror Australis

    I imagine ALP/Greens will preference NXT ahead of Libs, and vice versa. So to pick up seats, all they need to do is outpoll the 3rd placed candidate.

    You can pencil in at least 3 seats that NXT will likely win.

    The “Star Wars cantina” cross-bench will be in both Houses after the next election. Personally i think it’s not a bad thing either. Parliament shouldn’t be just a rubber stamp for the executive branch of government.

    • The “Star Wars cantina” cross-bench will be in both Houses after the next election. Personally i think it’s not a bad thing either.


      “Hung parliament” is the best thing that can happen in our system.

      • Terror Australis

        Not necessarily saying it WILL be a hung parliament. Just that there will be a lot more independent voices in the next one.

        Big Clive said on The Insiders that he is loving Canberra and wants to stick around for another term.
        Wilkie, McGowan, Katter will certainly all hold their seats.

        Brandt looks cemented in place in Melbourne and I reckon the Greens are a strong chance to pick up Melbourne Port, Higgins (sorry Kelly) and maybe Richmond on the NSW north coast.

        Add to that, Dick Smith is trying to unseat Abbott in Warringah (echoes of Bennelong 2007?).

        Finally, Chopper Bishop hasn’t said shes standing down from McKellar. A good independant could easily win there.

        And i almost forgot Tony Windsor. From his appearance on Q&A I think we can increase the odds of him throwing down a challenge to Barnaby Joyce in New England.

        So we could have a crossbench of a dozen or so. Interesting times.

      • “Big Clive said on The Insiders that he is loving Canberra and wants to stick around for another term.”

        Clive has zero chance of winning his seat again. His sole hope is to jump in to the Senate. Bet he regrets not running for it at the last election.

      • Terror Australis – don’t know if Dick Smith would be able to unseat Abbott in Warringah.

        Geoff Toovey would have a better chance, and he’ll be looking for a job next year

      • Terror Australis

        I wouldn’t write off Clive Palmer holding his seat. Forget about PUP, which is a trashed brand name. But seen in the context of just another independent candidate i think Palmer has some advantages.
        1) incumbency 2) bulging war chest 3) gets preferences from the left and the right 4) a prominent face on TV over the last few years.

        I’d back him.

      • “I’d back him.”

        He doesn’t seem to be backing himself.

        Clive Palmer has moved to lock in a powerful preference deal with two crossbenchers as the mining magnate weighs up a dramatic switch to the Senate at the next election.

        Fairfax Media has confirmed Mr Palmer personally offered a deal to Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Family First’s Bob Day.

        The preference swap would maximise the chances of the Palmer United Party in the mining states of Queensland and Western Australia. Mr Palmer has considered installing himself as the party’s lead candidate in Queensland.

      • Terror Australis

        Thats interesting!
        Frankly i’m not sure what Clive is playing at because a) the FF and LDP vote in Qld is negligible and b) these kind of minor party preference whisperer deals will be skotched by new Senate voting rules.

        I think he should man-up and fight his seat in Fairfax.

    • Tassie TomMEMBER

      Not sure about that preferencing prediction. In the SA senate last election Nick Xenephon had a “running mate”. The major parties (including The Greens) split Xenephon’s group, such that they had Xenephon high up but his running mate way down the bottom. Nick Xenephon almost got 2 quotas, but Bob Day won a seat because of the preference flows of the 3 major parties.

      • Terror Australis

        Well in the HoR seat battles, major parties won’t have the luxury of micro-managing their preferences via Group Voting Tickets.

        All they can do is print How To Vote cards and hope people read them.

        The unknown is really whether Xenephon can translate his personsal senate support into lower house party support.

  7. St JacquesMEMBER

    A few hundred million would have saved the car industry, hundreds of companies in the supply chain and tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and many skills when the Aus dollar was near an all time high. Now they’re demanding Abbott keeps his promise to spend tens of billions for a handful of (likely) unreliable subs to create a mere thousand jobs. GO TEAM AUSTRALIA !

    • adelaide_economist

      Yep, just another sign of how this government prefers to let its ideological obsessions with “unionz” get in the way not only of good policy (a given, obviously) but even in the way of their own political preservation.

    • Isn’t it awesome? Years of anti youth policy has already stripped opportunity and wealth from the young. Full retard policies such as these will unavoidably strip wealth from the asset holders too! Adelaide is a declining city, its population only sustained because immigrants get more points for living there; immigrants who will increasingly stay away as the Oz CDO squared economy tanks. Abandoned housing and suburban Blight is coming to Adelaide. Ha ha ha!

  8. EasydoesitMEMBER

    Which former footballers will be running as NXT candidates? It worked for Clive Palmer.

  9. Hey, at least we have a thriving drug industry. Plenty of those youths are becoming entrepreneurs. Tax free to boot.

  10. regarding the subs

    we should LEASE US nuclear subs

    cost a whole lot less

    awesome range…diesel is no good, when they go up for air they are most vulnerable

    all we would need is 3-4 of these for the ultimate deterrent

    or we could build substandard aussie subs that break down/in dry-dock most of the time

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Our Captain Abbott already promised the Japanese he’ll buy their sub, so the best he can do now is to shift the ships to be built in West Australia to South Australia.

      • the purpose of the subs is DEFENCE

        not just to create jobs

        and the ones we build are substandard

        we barely have 1-2 subs functional most of the time

        just tell our enemies not to attack just yet, give us a few years notice when we are ready lol

        NUCLEAR is the way to go…

        no refuelling for years

        greater range

        and US leased ones work

      • Rubbish, the Collins class submarines are still amongst the best in the world, other than the first in the class, HMAS Collins due to Swedish incompetence.

        The reason many experience low activity s not due to reliability, but due to the O&G industry gutting sub crews during a boom period.

        The complimentary infrastructure to service nuke subs would take 20+ years to develop, it’s not just a different fuel source.

    • Good points. I had a look at the specs for the new AIP subs last night.
      Crew of 25, mostly automated, very compact, Propulsion from Sweden, Saab,
      Very clever and technical. Should the tenderers accede to the subs being built here, the price will be cost plus and the risk of failure enormous, remember we cant even build a canoe here and look at the example of the NBN for the competence of the govt managing a contract.
      Should the AIP subs be supplied for a fixed cost they will be built in Japan
      Nick X should nick OFF. SA needs to develop its uranium industries.
      Subs are too important for defence to be left to a bunch of Sand Gropers. WW

    • dan, sounds awesome, but nuclear subs are simply not going to happen and there are substantively good reasons for an Australian-built alternative.


        Australia’s fleet of trouble-plagued Collins Class submarine is available for operations for barely half the time of comparable countries’ navies, a long-awaited independent report has found.

        Part two of the Coles report, released this morning, concluded that ”the availability performance of the Collins Class has been slightly over half that achieved by the comparable international programs”.

        Read more:

        yeh, the Collins are swimming along just great

        every nation should fear our mighty Collins class lol

      • bolstroodMEMBER

        Rage, you & Dan t man,would like THIS government to have a finger on a Nuclear trigger ?????
        Really??? Can you imagine Abbott in full shirt fronting mode, behind in the polls, hanging on to the Leaders job? You would TRUST him???
        A seriously BAD idea guys.

      • @ dan
        Wiki The Collins class is to be feared
        “A few days later, as part of the multinational exercise RIMPAC 2000, Waller was assigned to act as an ‘enemy’ submarine, and was reported to have successfully engaged two USN nuclear submarines before almost coming into attacking range of Abraham Lincoln.[172][173] Waller performed similarly during the Operation Tandem Thrust wargames in 2001, when she ‘sank’ two USN amphibious assault ships in waters just over 70 metres (230 ft) deep, although the submarine was ‘destroyed’ herself later in the exercise.[172][173] Waller‍ ’​s second feat was repeated by Sheean during RIMPAC 02, when the boat was able to penetrate the air and surface anti-submarine screens of an eight-ship amphibious task force, then successfully carry out simulated attacks on both the amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa and the dock landing ship USS Rushmore.[173][174]

        Later that year, during two weeks of combat trials in August, Sheean demonstrated that the class was comparable in the underwater warfare role to the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Olympia.[173][175] The two submarines traded roles during the exercise and were equally successful in the attacking role, despite Olympia being larger, more powerful, and armed with more advanced torpedoes.[175] In 2003, a Collins-class boat carried out successful attacks on two USN nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier during a multinational exercise.[176] The repeated successes of the class in wargames and multinational exercises earned the Collins class praise from foreign military officers for being “a very capable and quiet submarine”,[170] and recognition of the boats as a clear example of the threat posed to navies by modern diesel submarines.”

      • @bolstrood,

        not me, apologies if I gave that impression.

        “sounds awesome” is a comic book response in line with the proposal.
        “but nuclear subs are simply not going to happen” for very good reasons, one of which you mention.

      • Collins class are way underrated because of the clueless aus media. They had major teething issues and budget blowouts which pushed public sentiment against them and the media continues this sentiment today.

        No one looks at the facts which are: They are highly effective subs in war games and the problems were caused by political and bureaucratic bs. Mechanical issues were caused by imported parts – American gearboxes. Aus manufacturing is not to blame.

  11. Don’t forget NX has some wacky policy ideas which have been picked apart before. Using super as a house deposit anyone?

    I’m an Adelaidean and despite this state’s shortcomings (the above are just the tip of the iceberg) Adelaide does have some redeeming qualities. It’s a very liveable city without the headaches of the eastern states. Having said that, I won’t be hanging around for half a century to see it surge into a thriving metropolis.

    You could return in 20 yrs and it’ll be the same oversized country town. Hopefully a generational change and a punishing recession sweeps away the ultra conservative boomer views and rorting which have shackled this city for 60 years.

  12. ceteris paribus

    Jay Weatherill calling Nick Xenophen an opportunist- true but it takes one to know one- e.g. More super for pollies, GST, uranium development

  13. Y’know the electoral risk of getting rid of manufacturing is most probably less important for Abbott than having a diversified economy. Manufacturing requires committment, investment, building up a skilled and empowered workforce which means hard work and committment from political leaders and the only outcome for them is sharing political control with different groups and individuals they don’t like e.g. unions, educated white collar workers. Now if you have just a few productive areas centred around one activity i.e. resource extraction controlled by people with the same outlook as you and the workforce has no choice but to submit in order to have some sort of income then that means you don’t have to do any power sharing within the community. Meh, the electoral risk is worthwhile and Christopher Pyne is pretty disposable.

  14. It’s all good, just follow Xeno’s example and load up on Investment Properties… he has 8! That means he is 8 times better looking.