The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC



Labor Party

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

I want to talk about the open division and disunity, sadly, within the state Labor Party and the state Labor government that we have seen over recent weeks, in particular, this last week. In the last 24 hours, we have seen a calculated and vindictive leak from within cabinet with the deliberate intention of seeking to undermine whatever authority Premier Weatherill has at the moment, and this was of his $7 million wellbeing initiative, to make us an Asian leader in wellbeing, to have retreats on Kangaroo Island, looking at the science of imagination and to do a number of wonderful other things that Premier Weatherill took to cabinet, or is taking to cabinet, for support, and that is his priority.

Mr President, as you would be well aware, we have seen open public warfare between yourself and the Premier in relation to issues of freedom of speech and media coverage of the parliament. We have seen open warfare between the Premier and finance minister O'Brien, where they have embarrassingly contradicted each other over the issue of the underwriting of construction insurance following QBE's decision to vacate the market. That comes hot on the heels, of course, of public conflict between those two in relation to cuts to the police budget and another cabinet leak in relation to further funding required to reverse some of those cuts.

We have seen today two Labor caucus members, Ms Vlahos and Ms Bedford, outside together with Liberal leader Steven Marshall condemning the Weatherill government's handling of the school stationery contracts, another show of open rebellion by Labor caucus members of a decision that Premier Weatherill and his cabinet have taken. Of course, we have seen the recent experience, novel to us all, of a former key adviser to former premier Rann, Ms Bottrall, spearheading a campaign against Labor's car park tax.

What we are seeing on a daily basis is a government of division and disunity, a government leaking against itself, and cabinet leaks on a weekly basis. Mr President, as you would well know, if a party or a government cannot govern itself, then how on earth can it govern the state? That is the situation that we have, sadly, at the moment. Whilst we have these massive priorities that should be considered by the government, we are seeing massive cuts in health and education, in hospitals and schools. At the same time we have a premier, deluded as he might be, going off with a proposal that he is championing for a $7 million wellbeing initiative, a centre for wellbeing here in South Australia, as what he sees as the major priority confronting this state whilst at the same time critical health and hospital programs are being cut left, right and centre.

The intriguing thing about this is the ongoing conflict between two key members of the cabinet, the Premier himself and the Minister for Finance, Mr O'Brien. It is well known that Mr O'Brien, who is unflatteringly referred to by some of his Labor colleagues as Potis, believes that he should have been the Treasurer, rather than the Premier taking on the part-time Treasurer's role in the recent cabinet reshuffle. There was the public conflict in relation to the police budget cuts. There is the public conflict and contradictions in relation to the QBE decision, and then of course, interestingly, after that we see this leak from someone within cabinet seeking to embarrass the Premier over a $7 million wellbeing initiative.

There are some Labor people, cynics I know, who believe that that leak possibly came from someone very close to minister O'Brien. Only minister O'Brien will be able to put on the public record whether or not he agrees with the view some of his Labor colleagues are whispering in the corridors at the moment, that that is where people should be looking in relation to some of these particular issues—as I said, someone perhaps close to minister O'Brien. Sadly for the people of South Australia, whilst this government should be governing, all it is interested in at the moment is division and disunity.

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