A Swift straight bat on Bragg | Speirs gets timely advice

In a new Notes On Adelaide column, a federal election candidate coy on a state seat consolation prize, more intrigue around One Nation’s new MP, and Liberal leader David Speirs takes advice mid-media conference.

May 19, 2022, updated May 19, 2022
Liberal frontbencher Ashton Hurn finds a helpful position to offer counsel to her parliamentary leader. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Liberal frontbencher Ashton Hurn finds a helpful position to offer counsel to her parliamentary leader. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

No need to Bragg, yet

With federal election fever at its highest, the hype over who will succeed former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman in her plum seat of Bragg has dissipated somewhat in recent weeks.

Given the confusion over the incumbent’s departure date, the party is yet to open formal nominations for preselection, with only Jack Batty, a former Liberal staffer and adviser to Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, making his intentions clear thus far.

Boothby hopeful Dr Rachel Swift has been widely touted as a potential blow-in if she fails to retain the seat the party has held since 1949 – which is vulnerable with the departure of incumbent Nicolle Flint.

When her name was first mentioned weeks ago, Swift was, ahem… swift to give the notion short shrift, telling The Australian newspaper that her background in international aid work “meant she was only interested in federal politics and had no other plans”.

“I am wholly and solely focused on Boothby,” she said at the time.

Intriguing then that she was notably less definitive when asked (repeatedly) whether she might make a move to state parliament, during an ABC Adelaide radio chat yesterday.

After enthusing that the suburbs of Boothby were her “home” and that “this is where I chose to stand”, Swift was asked by host Stacey Lee: “Are you ruling out running in the state seat of Bragg if you don’t win Boothby?”

To which she replied: “I am absolutely focussed on a victory on Saturday.”

Hardly definitive, so Lee tried again: “Is that you ruling out running in Bragg?”

Evidently not, exactly: “That’s me focussed on the election in Boothby,” Swift replied.

“I don’t hear you ruling it out,” Lee ploughed on.

“I’ve said already I’m focussed on the election in Boothby,” Swift maintained.

It was an almost Biblical exchange, albeit instead of denying something three times, Swift pointedly failed to do so.

Bragg, of course, is among the most prized of state Liberal constituencies, the only safe seat the party holds in metropolitan Adelaide.

Still, Swift has already gone from being elected a party Vice-President, to contesting an unwinnable senate vacancy, to Boothby in little over a year.

But with polls suggesting the latter could be a bridge too far for the party to hold, the state seat might be looking more enticing by the day.

Whither One Nation?

Meanwhile, the intrigue continued in state parliament about One Nation’s fledgling MLC Sarah Game, who set tongues wagging last week when InDaily published an interview in which she espoused some very un-One Nation views, and confirmed she had ordered the party back to the drawing board on its education policy to ban the teaching of foreign languages in schools.

Her maiden speech this week was further grist to the mill, enthusing that “immigration has enriched our culture and skill base” and asserting “people’s right to maintain their culture and belief practices in Australia in a way that fosters a unified Australia, good relationships and respect between everybody”.

Which does appear a far cry from One Nation’s stated “zero-net migration policy” which permits “only highly-skilled migrants from culturally cohesive countries” who must demonstrate “a sound level of English for assimilation purposes”.

Still, the party’s lead SA senate candidate, state leader and Sarah’s mum, Jennifer Game insists there’s “no difference” in views, arguing: “One Nation has always supported immigration when it is in Australia’s interest.”

No difference here. One Nation has always supported immigration when it is in Australia’s interest. Faith communities strengthen the civil society the socialists Greens want to destroy. @OneNationAus #auspol # saparli @MLCGame

— Jennifer Game (@JenniferGame6) May 18, 2022

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But amid the flutter of suggestions the younger Game may be better suited outside the party’s confines, she put out an intriguing statement yesterday, in which she blasted the Malinauskas Government’s “backroom deal with the Greens and SA Best” to pass its new COVID-19 laws, which she says has put “power-plays ahead of good legislation”.

Game slammed the result as “lazy legislation”, asking the Greens – whose two MLCs noticeably offered her affectionate congratulations after this week’s maiden speech – if they’d “continue to put their image ahead of doing the right thing to protect the South Australian people”.

But the intrigue came not in the content of the media release, but its presentation: with a logo of the top depicting its author in smart gold lettering.

Conspicuously absent in the signage, though, is any reference to her party.

Game says her office is yet to “receive our national branding”, but insists it’s “on its way”.

I will not nod quietly

Game isn’t the only one critiquing the new COVID laws – the Liberal Opposition has been strident in its critiques of the “draconian” penalties enshrined therein (albeit the same penalties enshrined in the previous iteration that they oversaw in Government).

They even proudly retweeted basketballer Andrew Bogut’s stinging critique of Malinauskas, whom the Daily Mail, in its typically understated way, has dubbed “Australia’s newest coronavirus dictator”.

Meanwhile, though, Labor’s twitter account picked up on some intriguing byplay between Opposition Leader David Speirs and his Health spokeswoman Ashton Hurn, when they fronted media on the issue yesterday.

While Speirs was being asked about whether the Libs had dropped the ball in discussions with the crossbenchers who ultimately dealt with Labor, Hurn appeared to offer him some helpful speaking notes – while standing directly behind him, in clear camera shot.

Watch behind Speirs… ?

Who is leading the SA Liberal Party?

Who is pulling the strings?@SALibMedia

— SA Labor (@alpsa) May 18, 2022

Hurn, of course, is a former media adviser to Steven Marshall, who was noted for similarly coaching the then-Premier during his regular media updates with helpful nods, shakes of the head and assorted long-distance pointers.

Back then, though, she was at least off-camera.

Her new leader may appreciate future advice being given in a similar capacity.

Notes On Adelaide is an occasional column telling the inside stories of Adelaide people, politics, institutions and issues. If you have information that you believe should be noted in this column, send us an email: [email protected]

Notes On Adelaide is also a podcast – find our latest episodes here.

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