Wednesday, 19 March 2014
South Australia State Election
We actually ended up falling six seats short of being able to form government. The fact is that it was not just a very close situation—where you maybe had a seat or two here or there—but, with 51.8 per cent of the vote, we actually fell six seats short. I think by anybody's reckoning that is not a system that is particularly fair.
I said in my commencing remarks that it looked unlikely that the Liberal Party in South Australia would form government. However, it is certainly premature to be saying that they will not form government, because we have two Independents who currently hold the balance of power. Those two Independents, the member for Frome and the member for Fisher, reside in reasonably conservative electorates. You only had to read, in this morning's Advertiser, about the poll that they did in the two electorates, to find out that the voters of those electorates overwhelmingly wanted the Independents to support the establishment of a Liberal government in South Australia.
If we are not able to form a government in South Australia we will have a situation where the majority of people of South Australia have spoken on Saturday, although it appears—from a survey in the two Independent seats—that the majority of people in the seats won by the Independents have indicated that they want a conservative government to form in South Australia. Both of the Independents are obviously very sensible men, and I am sure that they will be listening to reason. We can only hope. That is particularly so in the case of Mr Brock, who resides in a regional electorate. We all know that many of the issues that confront South Australia at the moment are in our regional areas. Mr Brock has the wonderful opportunity here, if he forms government with the Liberal Party, to be able to deliver some outcomes for rural and regional South Australia in areas like infrastructure, which has been so sadly lacking. Our roads are unbelievable.
In South Australia the Labor government has been trying to lower speed limits simply because they have not spent enough money on road maintenance. The roads have become unsafe, but their answer to was not to fix the roads so that they are good and safe for people to drive on, but to reduce the speed limit. That begs the question of whether, if we do not start doing something now, we are all soon going to be driving around at 20 kilometres an hour.
It is also interesting to note that the extraordinary majority of people in country seats voted for the Liberal Party. In the seat in which I live—Chaffey, which includes much of the Murray River and the Riverland area of South Australia—many of our booths were voting in excess of 80 to 85 per cent for the Liberal Party. It is such an overwhelming indication of what the people in South Australia, particularly in the rural and regional areas, are requesting of the government. They are saying: 'It is time that we had a government that did not forget about us. It is time that we had a government that recognised that South Australia's boundaries go past the metropolitan area and that those people who live in rural and regional areas count just as much.'
Before I finish, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate David Speirs, who appears to have been elected as the new member for Bright; Vincent Tarzia, who appears to have been elected as the new member for Hartley; Troy Bell, who appears to have been elected as the new member for Mount Gambier; and Corey Wingard, who it appears quite likely will be elected as the member for Mitchell. I would also like to congratulate Andrew McLachlan, who has been elected to the Legislative Council.
In conclusion, I also congratulate the Tasmanian Liberal Party for an overwhelming result in Tasmania. As I said earlier, given the extraordinary situation in Tasmania, with the electoral system that I do not think anybody really understands, it was a fantastic result for the Liberal Party and a terrible result for the Greens.
The most important lesson that we need to learn from the South Australian election on Saturday is that if we really want have integrity in our electoral system, if we want people to be comfortable that our electoral system is fair and unbiased, and if we want the majority of people to be listened to when they go to the polls, we need to do something to change the way we vote in South Australia. We need to make sure that no South Australian feels that their vote has not mattered or that their vote has not counted. Despite the fact that the wishes of the majority of the people have been loudly broadcast around the whole of the state, it is quite likely, as I said, that a government will be formed in South Australia that does not represent the wishes of the majority of South Australians.
Senate adjourned at 19 : 27