Our View (20-3-2018): A change in government, and for Narungga

FRASER Ellis is the new Liberal member for Narungga, and will form part of the first Liberal government in South Australia for 16 years.

This news will be welcome to many on Yorke Peninsula, especially considering the Liberals won almost half the local vote in their own right. The Australian Conservatives claimed nearly 10 per cent, showing a clear majority of locals favoured right-wing parties.

The election campaign was a testing time for our paper, given Fraser is the son of managing director Michael Ellis. I believe we passed the test. We made a concerted effort to grant equal editorial space for all candidates, but made it clear it would be up to them to supply worthwhile story ideas. I thank them all for their cooperation, and am confident they would agree the YP Country Times was professional and fair.

Making matters more difficult, the nature of the election meant we ran more stories about it than usual. This was in no small part because our previously-safe Liberal seat had been vacated and the candidate, Mr Ellis, faced a serious challenge from a new party on the block.
SA-BEST candidate Sam Davies gave his all.

Mr Davies invested a significant amount of time and money into the campaign, as he trekked across the electorate in his Kombi van, Ernie, meeting with as many voters as possible. Mr Davies finished second but, even with preferences, was a reasonable way off of challenging the Liberals.

A late swing in voter sentiment away from SA-BEST leader Nick Xenophon, and toward the Libs, at a state-wide level certainly did not help his cause.

Mr Davies’ effort wasn’t for nothing. His challenge was a key reason the Liberal Party made several Yorke Peninsula-specific election promises. They included restoring surgical services at Yorketown Hospital, providing funding for Ardrossan Community Hospital, and spending millions on an overpass at Crash Corner just north of Port Wakefield. We will work to hold the Liberals accountable for these promises and ensure they come to fruition.

Spare a thought for outgoing local member Steven Griffiths, who served the electorate for 12 years but only in an opposition capacity. Mr Griffiths rose as high as deputy leader of the state Liberal Party in 2009, but opted not to contest this year’s election after Steven Marshall relegated him to the backbench.

Had Mr Griffiths stuck it out for another term he would have almost certainly won Narungga and served as a member of the government for the first time. Despite his recent demotion he would have been well positioned for a role within the Marshall cabinet, perhaps with the local government or regional development portfolios.

Instead he is on the hunt for work. I’m sure Mr Griffiths will land on his feet, although his next job may take him away from the peninsula, and that will be a loss for the community.

In the Legislative Council, former Yorke Peninsula girl Emily Bourke easily secured a position for Labor. Mrs Bourke worked with the Labor government for more than a decade before taking this next step. Hopefully she will be another voice for our region.

That will be especially important considering Australian Conservatives MLC Robert Brokenshire appears likely to lose his seat in the upper house. Mr Brokenshire has been a strong advocate for country communities and has frequently helped deal with YP issues.

SA-BEST should win two upper house seats, which previously belonged to Mr Brokenshire and Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent. But SA-BEST’s country candidate, Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson, was third on the ticket and will also miss out. Without he or Mr Brokenshire, none of the 22 Legislative Council members will live outside of Adelaide. We must ensure YP and other country communities are not forgotten by those on North Terrace.

We have a new government, and new representation locally, but the paper’s job will stay the same – advocating for the people of the peninsula.

Nick Perry, Editor
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