What is really behind the Liberal’s loss in South Australia

By Joe Montero

The weekend’s election in South Australia saw the Liberal government fall and Labor take its place. Dissatisfaction over the handling of Covid, and the state health and ambulance services were factors. Keeping Scott Morrison and his ministers out of the lection campaign was an admission that the are on the nose and a relevant factor.

Th result is a positive one for South Australia and the rest of our nation.

Most of the post-election analysis concentrates on above points and leave out something more fundamental. This is that the result reflects a growing disillusionment of voters with traditional parties, something that is ultimately more important than the result of one election.

According to the state’s Electoral Commission the liberal Party lost 3.3 percent of its vote and gained 43.6 percent of the electors. Labour scored 40.4 percent. A crucial factor has been the growth of the independents share, which is now 8.7 percent. The Greens are at 9.6 percent.

This tells only part of the story. Another is that the vote for the Liberal Party remained the same as in the last electing in 2018. While Labor’s increased substantially, climbing from 32.8 percent to 42 percent, this did not come from the Liberal Party’s loss of its electoral base over its terms in office.

The electoral out some was determined by the disappearance of Nick Xenophon’s SA-BEST, which had secured 14.2 percent of the vote in 2018. Half of this went to Labour, and most of the rest went to the independents. This constituency represents part of that portion in South Australia, of the growing part of Australia that is increasingly alienated from the major parties and is increasingly distrusting the political system. They see it as corrupt, unprincipled, and not operating in the interests of ordinary Australians.

Labor has made a short-term gain from the progress of this shift. The new challenge for Labor is that the electoral gain is inherently unstable, and much more to do with antipathy for the Liberals than commitment to Labor, and this is likely to have longer-term consequences.

A political shift is taking place around Australia, which takes its own form in South Australia. This shift may not be crashing down the barriers. But it is real and on a slow rise. Australia is gaining a sense that they are no longer convinced that the politicians are representing its interests, and Australia is coming around to the realisation that it wants better than this.

It is this that bring the biggest headache for Scott Morrison. This same rise in disillusionment and call for something better will be of major importance in the coming May federal election, and South Australia could be a signal of what might be in store.

But this does not necessarily mean the fall of the federal government. There remains the manipulative influence of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. So far, the indication is that it will do its best to return Scott Morrison. This could be enough to guarantee the result.

Whatever the happens in May, Australia’s political system will be a little less stable. More so if it ends up in a minority government.

This would not necessarily be a bad outcome. The more Australians are dissatisfied with what we’ve got, the better the prospects for some change.

In the short-term, it would be far better for the Morrison government to fall. This would send out a strong message that Australia rejects the toxic policies we have been experiencing. Where we go from here is another question.

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