The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:50): I would like to talk about a government in its death throes, one that is tearing itself apart while seeking to damage itself and its colleagues. Sadly for South Australians, the fact is that, whilst this government and its members seek to damage themselves, they will also damage the future of South Australia for the next 3½ years, as we await the next election.
One cannot walk the corridors of this place, or take a telephone call, without running into some Labor source wanting to leak damaging information against another government MP, wanting to damage first the Premier or the Treasurer and then the leadership contenders as well. The sources from the left are leaking against the Premier and the Treasurer, and any of the contenders from the Right, whether it be Messrs Koutsantonis, Snelling or Rau; the sources on the Right, of course, are busily trying to undermine and damage the reputation of minister Weatherill.
One amusing aspect to all this is that one Labor source said to me only last week, being critical of the Premier himself and his arrogance, that the man who sees himself as the ‘King Twit’ has evidently ‘de-tweeted’ his own spin doctors and banned them from tweeting on Twitter. He apparently allows them to be Twitter voyeurs; they are allowed to look at, or follow, other tweeters but they are not allowed to participate. Perhaps Premier Rann is concerned that the tweets of his spin doctors might outshine the ‘King Twit’ himself in relation to the use of Twitter.
This damaging outbreak of hostilities within the Labor Party has spread to the floor of the other place. We understand that today open warfare has broken out between minister O’Brien and the Treasurer on the floor of the parliament in a very unedifying spectacle for the people of South Australia in terms of the state’s long-term future. Evidently minister O’Brien has taken strong exception to the stories that Treasurer Foley and his spin doctors have been spreading in the corridors—not only to MPs but also to members of the media—about minister O’Brien’s performance. It seems that minister O’Brien could no longer control himself, and got up in question time and openly disagreed with the views of the Treasurer.
Of course, the Treasurer is mightily displeased with anyone disagreeing with his views, and we are also reliably informed that the media is chasing minister O’Brien, but he has holed himself up in the House of Assembly chamber, refusing to come out. He has to come out at some stage, and I am sure that the media will wait around long enough to cover all the doors and exits to get a comment from him.
When the Treasurer was asked, in the first instance, about whether or not he agreed with the views expressed by minister O’Brien about the privatisation of SA Forests in the South-East, minister O’Brien was heard to issue a loud expletive in the chamber, indicating his displeasure. He was then asked a question about whether he agreed with the Treasurer, and my lower house colleagues inform me that he said he did not, and proceeded to explain why he, the self-proclaimed best qualified, most magnificent primary industries minister this state has ever seen, apparently, was also the expert on privatisation and Treasury—albeit he did get a small matter wrong in relation to finances: according to the Mount Gambier transcript, he still had not caught up with the fact that South Australia gets all the GST revenue and has done so since the deal was negotiated almost a decade ago.
So, perhaps his own magnificence, in terms, as he sees it, of forestry issues, does not really extend to matters financial as perhaps he might think himself. Sadly, we see, as I said, a government in its death throes. The problem is not just for the government. The problem we see is for the people of South Australia because, for the next 3½ years, all this government and its members are going to do is seek to do damage to each other, rather than seek to do good for the people of South Australia.