Response from Adelaide University SA-BEST Club: Nothing Less than the Best
Words by Lazaras Panayiotou
This year’s first On Dit issue featured a piece called, “Left, Right & Centre”, which was comprised of representatives from Socialist Alternative, the Adelaide University Labor Club and the Adelaide University Liberal Club who responded to a series of questions. The first question was regarding Nick Xenophon, a hot button issue brought about by his historic popularity at the upcoming state election. We acknowledge that the team at On Dit were not aware of the existence of an SA-BEST Club on campus at the time, which is fair enough considering this is our first year, but we thought it would be appropriate to still reach out and offer a response to be published online.
SA-BEST, and its leader Nick Xenophon, represent a very real and very important sentiment within the electorate: people are sick and tired of the major parties and the political culture that they so vehemently defend. It is the opinion of the Adelaide University SA-BEST Club that, for far too long, Labor and Liberal have been more committed to political point-scoring and using the Australian political system to further their own careers, than to commit to effective governance.
This rhetoric is nothing new to South Australian politics either. From the Liberal Movement of the 1970s up to the Australian Democrats who held seats well into the mid-2000s, South Australia has always been a stronghold for socially progressive, economically centrist, watchdog parties. This sentiment of watchdog politics is representative of South Australia’s commitment to democracy, and illustrates that, too often in national politics, South Australia is neglected in favour of the more powerful eastern states. This history contextualises South Australian politics, and SA-BEST is a logical conclusion that fits into this narrative perfectly.
SA-BEST is an attempt to make political history; never has a state election been a genuine three horse race. This political diversity is good for Australian democracy, as representing millions of voters with two ideological points-of-view has been proven inefficient. Many people accuse SA-BEST of lacking policy, which was an early campaign point of the larger, better funded parties. However, it is now the case that specific, well-drafted policy positions can be found on the sabest.org.au website. Put simply, these policies and position guidelines convey how SA-BEST is committed to government and corporate responsibility and accountability, reforming gambling laws to help bring down Australia’s alarming problem gambling statistics and reforming our political system so it works efficiently for all South Australians, not just the top end, by following the example of accountability and watchdog measures found in the federal parliament.
Watching SA-BEST’s campaign has been an interesting test of South Australia’s political character. As it turns out, challenging the status quo leaves you open to attacks from all sides. The Australian Hotels Association, through the support of big business names like Woolworths, has been running one of the more aggressive scare campaigns in recent history, due to their profits being threatened by gambling legislation. Yet, SA-BEST is the only party to come forward call out the Australian Hotels Association, with Nick Xenophon bringing light to how latest research exposes that poker machines cause job loss, as highlighted by The Australian.
Furthermore, is worth noting that the Australian Hotels Association are major contributors to both the major parties, and to the Australian Conservatives. This interference in South Australian politics by amoral interest groups concerned merely by profits has led to the Alliance for Gambling Reform stating that Woolworths should cut ties with the Association in question, which is, disappointingly, the opposite of what Woolworths Chairman Gordon Cairns has come forward to say at the recent annual meeting, pitting themselves as operating, “through ALH” in their media statement on gaming late last month. “The great irony is that today there are people in South Australia and around the country who can’t afford to buy food and the essentials of life in a Woolworths Supermarket because they have lost their money at a Woolworths’ poker machine,” said Nick Xenophon on Sunday.
While other political parties and politically-affiliated university clubs continue their attack up until the 17th, we will be happy to work with them on any issues facing the state or the university. We hope we can prove our worth and promote a change in our political culture that can be better equipped at promoting the inclusivity of students and voters.
If you want a change in the way politics is done in your state; if you want to see each politician working harder for the interests of constituents, and if you want to see governments and corporations held to account, SA-BEST would be honoured if you were to put us high on your ballot paper on the 17th. It’s time we shook up politics in this state, not as an accursedly parasitic party, but one representative of democracy’s ideals through accountable governance. SA-BEST will not allow itself to be tied down by a coalition that favours the two-party system, but instead opt for whichever arrangement that will best ensure that we, as individuals, leave South Australian politics in a healthier position than when we started. Negotiation is SA-BEST’s speciality, as demonstrated through the hard work of the Nick Xenophon Team in the federal parliament, and we will not bargain for anything less than the best.
Lazaras Panayiotou is the Vice-President of the Adelaide University SA-BEST Club