Alternatives give SA election a spark


By Chris Spindler

ADELAIDE — Campaigns by a number of progressive candidates, including the Green Alliance, a teachers union candidate, the Democratic Socialists and independents, in the December 11 South Australian elections have added genuine interest to an otherwise stultifying election campaign.

Premier Lynn Arnold has called an unusually long election campaign hoping to give the Liberals enough time to trip over their own policies.

This is Labor's only election strategy. Starting, as some polls estimate, 20 points behind the Liberals, the ALP faces decimation on December 11 unless it can expose the Liberals' policies to the point where people believe they will get a Kennett-style government if they elect the Liberals.

The Liberals are determined to keep their plans shrouded in secrecy. Opposition leader Dean Brown has stated that they won't unveil a number of major policies or the costing for them until a week before the election.

Few real issues have surfaced in the first week of the campaign.

On the other hand, alternative candidates are putting forward a series of policies that relate to the real concerns of people here.

Green Alliance, a broadly based group of individuals and organisations, has put forward a ticket of two candidates for the Legislative Council.

Green Alliance is looking to cooperate with many of the other alternative campaigns. Trish Corcoran, one of the GA candidates, said, "We welcome the teachers running a candidate in the upper house. Hopefully the campaigns can work together, as can alternatives in both the upper and lower houses. The teachers' campaign will help to highlight the desperate state of education in South Australia. Such a campaign will complement Green Alliance policies.

"Green Alliance will be focusing on a range of environmental and social justice concerns, in particular public transport.

"The role that the WA Green senators has played has been very important. We reject any notion that green and social issues should be kept separate. They are totally interlinked."

The South Australian Institute of Teachers (SAIT) has announced a campaign for the upper house, endorsing SAIT president Clare McCarty as an education candidate.

McCarty said, "Our surveys have shown that there are three issues which are of major concern to people — employment, an effective public sector and education".

There has already been considerable interest from a range of left organisations and unions in supporting the teachers' campaign.

The Democratic Socialists, the only socialist campaign in the elections so far, are running in two seats, Adelaide and Peake.

Andrew Hall, candidate for Adelaide, commented, "There is a great deal of anger among people. Neither Liberal nor Labor have any solutions. Both are competing for the favours of big business. Both the Labor government and the Liberals are upping the number of jobs that have to go to reduce the government's debt.

"What should be happening is real job creation. Clean up the environment; the public sector should be extended, not slashed. A shorter working week with no loss in pay is a real solution. The profits of big business should pay for the social concerns of the state — not job cuts and wage erosion."

Kate Barrett, a community and environmental activist, is standing as an independent in the seat of Colton.

"My concern is to create work through promoting local environmental projects such as saving the local beaches and sand-dune regeneration and local waste recycling. The responsibility of parliamentary representatives also has to be addressed. Their offices should be open to the public for campaign purposes."