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First up in 2022, an election in South Australia

· Ross Dennis,Election,South Australia,Analysis

The South Australian election is fast approaching with both major parties delivering their election pitch in recent weeks. Over the course of their first term, the Liberal Party’s government suffered the loss of four members who moved to the crossbench. They now govern in minority. Both parties are chasing 24 seats in the 47-seat parliament. Currently, the Liberal Party have 22 seats, Labor 19 and there are six independents. The Liberals are led by the sitting Premier Steven Marshall and Labor by Peter Malinauskas. The state election is on Saturday, 19 March 2022.

The Liberal Party are hoping their stewardship of the state during the pandemic will win them some votes. The state fared well compared to its more populous neighbours to the east. Yet, despite low cases numbers, South Australia’s health system drew controversy over ambulance ramping – the long queues that form as patients are brought from an ambulance into the hospital. The Labor Party have promised to fix the issue.

The Labor Party have promised an extra $100 million for 50 beds in the yet-to-be-built, new Women’s and Children’s Hospital. As well as $31.6 million on recruiting 48 more doctors, including 17 senior specialists as well as $6.2 million to recruit specialist nurses to work on the hospital’s cancer and mental health wards across the state.

This contrasts with the Liberal Government’s plan to build 59 more treatment spaces than the current hospital in North Adelaide, allowing for 3,400 more inpatient admissions and 18,000 emergency department attendees.

Steven Marshall and his government are celebrating the improved interstate migration that has occurred in South Australia since taking office, with the state recording its highest level of interstate migration in 40 years and proving the power of South Australia to attract talent into its workforce. Likewise, the Liberal Government are praising the fact that under the Liberal Party yearly electricity prices have fallen in South Australia reducing by $303 for the average household after bills went up $477 in the last two years of Labor Government. This figure also coincided with wholesale prices for electricity falling and becoming the lowest nationally in 2020, even as the proportion of electricity generated from renewables continued to rise and reached 60 percent that year.

The election promises to be a tightly run contest with The Australia Institute commissioning an online poll, that revealed the Labor Party are leading the Liberal Party 51 to 49 percent on a two-party preferred state-wide vote. Yet, the election will be more complicated than the two-party poll suggests. The four Liberals who moved to the crossbench are campaigning as independents which creates uncertainty if the Liberals can unseat them and retake their seat. There has also been a redistribution of seats which should deliver two seats to both Labor and Liberal. A uniform swing of two percent across marginal seats held by the Liberal Party should deliver the Labor Party a victory. The Liberal Party are poised to retake some of the seats lost to independents and can form a governing majority so long as they don’t lose any seats.

The election will foreshadow the upcoming federal election, and both federal major parties will be watching closely.

Ross Dennis is a Policy Analyst at FPL Advisory.

FPL Advisory is a team of specialists resolving risks and creating opportunities with respect to government. We work with public sector and corporate clients to execute strategies for owning and managing change.