The South Australian Libs can't win with Redmond

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The repeated blundering and political naiveté of South Australian Liberal leader Isobel Redmond is so abject, writes former Liberal candidate Matt Donovan, there is now no chance of her winning the next election.

Former SA Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith and his successor Isobel Redmond.

ALMOST CERTAINLY, the SA Liberal Party will not win Government with whoever takes Isobel Redmond's place as Opposition Leader. Then again, who would want the job now?

That is, after Redmond has made the gaffe of all gaffes; a gaffe of such astonishing proportions that Liberal Party insiders have been left in a state of head-shaking bewilderment.

Isobel Redmond said on Thursday that she would cut 20,000 public service jobs, before later retracting her statement.

From The Advertiser (14/9/12):
Yesterday, she indicated she would cut about one in four public servants - 20,000 full-time jobs - before later issuing a statement saying she had been mistaken and an independent razor gang would be charged with determining a number.

Liberal MPs and powerbrokers today said the party could win the 2014 election under Ms Redmond.

There are fears the comments will be used in a WorkChoices-style campaign at the next state poll.

The despair is being felt across both factions of the party and by aspiring marginal seat MPs.

Not only that, but news came out today that she ignored the (bleeding obvious) advice of her predecessor that putting a number on job cuts would be political suicide.

From The Australian (18/9/12):
SOUTH Australian Liberal Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond ignored warnings from her predecessor, Martin Hamilton-Smith, that putting a number on public service job cuts before the next election would be "political suicide", it has emerged.

The Australian understands Mr Hamilton-Smith, the party's health spokesman, delivered his warning to the Liberal partyroom in April and pushed for the opposition to adopt as its policy an audit commission to recommend the number of job cuts after the next election, due in March 2014.

Ms Redmond seemingly ignored this last week when she told reporters up to 35,000 public-sector jobs would be axed during the first term of a Redmond government. She retracted the announcement six hours later, after it had been reported across all media, and sought to reaffirm the party's commitment to Mr Hamilton-Smith's policy.

Hamilton-Smith is right ― to come out and say that she will get rid of 20,000 to 35,000 public service jobs is akin to signing your own − and your Party's − death warrant. Sacking one in four workers from the State's biggest employer? In one thoughtless moment, Redmond the Destroyer has unleashed a wave of public apprehension that will keep the State Liberal party from winning government for at least another five years. This gaffe must have Labor popping champagne corks as they pre-celebrate yet another election win.

You can see the ALP ads now:

“Keep your job, vote Labor”

“Redmond will put you on the street”

“You will lose you job and your house with Liberal”

“No matter what they say , they will slash jobs , you might be next”

I thought of those in 60 seconds ― you can be assured that the Labor Party will do much better than that; just wait until you see the TV ads with sad faced children sleeping in a car because mummy and daddy lost their job and have now lost their home.

It will be a bloodbath.

Liberal power brokers must be pulling their hair out now and wondering what on earth can they do now. Considering that the SA Liberal Party is funded entirely with donations and fundraising, they need a good story to tell; they need a strong and competent leader with saleable policy that appeals to all voters ― after all, who would donate to a party that is going to lose the election. Now that Redmond has come out and said that 1 in 4 public service jobs will be going, that puts in doubt the votes from 10 per cent of the voting public, as well as their spouses and a proportion of their children, parents and other family members and friends. I would say that this gaffe alone will cost a minimum 100,000 votes and perhaps as many as 200,000. As Labor people say to me, they love Isobel Redmond  ― she is their best ally.

What this Liberal leader apparently does not understand is that Australia is gripped by the highest levels of household and mortgage debt ever. And with BHP shelving its Olympic Dam mine, and Isobel Redmond telling people that their jobs are no longer safe, then the secure warm feeling you have about your mortgage and the home that you and your family live in has suddenly become a nightmare of insecurity and dread ― as people start to wonder how they will survive, where they may sleep.

So, how immediately bad is this for the Liberal opposition leader? Well, probably not as bad as some may think because, now that she has destroyed the chances of the SA Liberals winning the 2014 election, then who would want to take her job? The only options, as I see it, are Martin Hamilton-Smith, Iain Evans or Steven Marshall. If Hamilton-Smith or Evans take over, it means they will sandbag Marshall’s seat to keep him in Parliament and let him take over as opposition leader around 2016. Evans and Hamilton Smith should then resign and let the new blood into Parliament and possibly even Government in 2018…if they win. Chances are, they will lose 4 seats or more − including all the new blood like Steven Marshall and Rachel Sanderson − and be forced to use the 2018 election to recover some of those lost seats.

Steven Marshall, John Gardner and Rachel Sanderson must all be fuming, now that their slim margins have now been whittled away by what must be one of the most stupid comments ever made by a current opposition leader. It seems she has as much regard to her marginal seat MPs in her own party as she does of people struggling to pay ever increasing household bills and mortgages in voter land.

There is talk of an outsider taking over, although the spectre of a Campbell Newman style slash and burn leader taking over in South Australia would no doubt be used by the Labor Party in their campaigning after Redmond's comments.

In any case, a new leader is definitely needed − or perhaps a new party − but whatever happens, people need work and families need hope; putting 20 000 people on the street in a volatile time will only cause unnecessary pain and suffering. What needs to be done is to grow the economy and give incentives to attract investment and growth.

I suspect a challenge to Redmond is imminent ― but if it doesn’t come, then it can only mean that no one in the S.A. Liberal party believes they have a snowball's chance in hell of winning Government.

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