Current Issue #488

Andrew P Street:
The forgotten state?


It’s time for the state to ignore our differences, join together to speak with a single powerful voice, and throw the mother of all dummy-spits.

Look, you might have noticed that things aren’t as absolutely flawlessly perfect at the moment as they might ideally be. You know, what with pandemics and economic depressions and the closure of key South Australian media that have been the voices of the state for decades and stuff.

And it would perhaps be depressing to talk about the way that our local media has dried up over the years, from The News to Rip It Up to dB Magazine to the West Coat Sentinel to Messenger newspapers to The Pennant to the South Eastern Times to Border Watch to the ABC’s local TV production. Not to mention the national (ie Sydney and Melbourne) content increasingly replacing South Australian stories on Nine, Ten, Seven and at The Advertiser and Sunday Mail, and on all commercial radio networks. But who’s counting?

Anyway, the fact that barely anyone is here reporting on our local news and culture, and that even fewer outlets are running those stories when they do, might go some way to explaining why there’s a national blind spot that starts in about Broken Hill and extends all the way south-west before ending in the more marginal electorates of Perth.

But you already know how that. I mean, we often don’t even factor into stories that are literally about us.

All the arguments about the massive amount of water missing from the Murray- Darling have turned into a bun fight about whether commercial agriculture concerns and businesses connected with federal politicians should be profiting from an irreplaceable resource. No one is looking at those parched riverbeds filled with stinking dead fish and saying, “Um, you know that if the Murray stops flowing then everything from Renmark to Adelaide is gone, right? No-one’s concerned about the Coorong becoming a series of sand dunes, huh? No Storm Boy fans in the house?”

I mean, even while the Prime Minister was spitting venom at the border closures of Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria he didn’t even take a moment to slam South Australia for adopting the exact same policies. And, yes, I realise it’s because we have a Liberal government, but even so: can’t we be part of the problem at least once?

Infuriatingly we can’t even get national attention for having our state parliament melt down in a series of deeply silly self-owns – including, let’s remember, actual investigations for criminal conduct by current sitting members of parliament. And just when it looked like someone might finally say, “What do you mean, the speaker is being expelled from his own party?” suddenly every headline was about the New South Wales government and which MPs were agitating for the right to murder koalas.

It’s so unfair – not least because we’ve proved that we can neglect our iconic creatures just as poorly as they do. Has anyone checked out that animatronic Bunyip at Murray Bridge? We let it turn into a ball of slime! Where’s our goddamn parliamentary crisis over that?

And we didn’t even get a look in for the AFL grand final, despite being a state that actually plays AFL. Seriously, Queensland? Are they going to lure the crowd in by peering into the Gabba and going, “My god, isn’t that King Wally Lewis?” and then locking the gates behind them?

Clearly we need to lift our game because otherwise we’re just going to have to wait until Kimba is used for a culture war over nuclear energy. And I for one don’t want to wait until there’s an op-ed in The Australian of the flavour “Well, what’s the point of even HAVING a nuclear waste dump if we don’t get to fill it? Won’t someone stand up for the struggling plutonium farmers of the Eyre Peninsula?”

Fortunately, I have a three-year-old child and have therefore become something of an expert in the mechanics of an attention-getting tantrum. For example:

1. Keep our borders closed to everyone except Victoria

The government shouldn’t even give an explanation for it: just announce it and watch the entire Dictator Dan-spewing press implode with apoplectic fury while Andrews himself tries to think of a polite way to walk back that whole “Why would you want to go to South Australia?” thing from June.

And we just smile and nod.

2. Let solar and wind “choose themselves” over gas

We’re actually pretty much doing that, although you might not be aware that renewables are increasingly running our entire state’s electricity grid, not least because to say out loud that the tech for wind and solar plus battery storage is already easily able to cover our power needs makes… um, our coal cry, I guess?

But while Scott Morrison is pushing his gas-led recovery, we could provocatively keep running on clean energy and snicker every time he talks about his enthusiasm for the power of gas. As I said, we’re already pretty much doing that.

3. Threaten to secede

Look, Western Australia does it any time they feel like the east coast isn’t being suitably deferential. Maybe we too should also start pulling the “Don’t make me come over there and undo Federation” card a bit more often.

Sure, it’s impossible and hollow, but it doesn’t stop self-important Perthians declaring that they’re sick and tired of the nation charging them GST/not having as many mineral deposits/coveting their quokkas and maybe they’ll go it alone unless Canberra coughs up a little something-something.

I mean, what’re they going to do? Cut off our water suppl… oh yeah, OK. Well played, eastern states. Well played.

Andrew P Street

Andrew P Street

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Andrew P Street is a freelance writer whose books include The Short And Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign Of Captain Abbott (2015) and The Long And Winding Way To The Top (2017).

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The Adelaide Review
1984 – 2020

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