Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spin City in the South

I sometimes despair at what is happening across Adelaide and South Australia - or more correctly what is not happening.

The place is locked in a time warp – it’s the 1950’s all over again – but this time it is run by a *spin meister* who is more concerned with retaining power than with fixing the substantial problems of the place.

It doesn’t matter how hard or how often the Premier and his PR army try to talk the place up – the people are finally waking up, peering out from under their mushrooms and asking the tough questions.

Which is all rather unusual – South Australians have a reputation for not questioning authority. I think it stems from the fear and control that has been wielded by government and business over many decades in a town where jobs are hard to find and easy to lose. It’s much safer to keep your head down. Those who speak out have traditionally been punished – often losing their jobs or being bypassed for promotion or even blacklisted. I have some personal experience of this. To an outside observer, it seems the government thinks it is much easier to sweep things under the carpet rather than deal with reality. This might also explain why the Premier is so opposed to an independent commission against corruption.

And of course this is all aided and abetted by a local media that can best be described as mediocre. Actually, David Salter in his recent book “The Media We Deserve” can articulate it much better than I can – the subtitle is “Underachievement in the Fourth Estate” – it’s well worth a look. You probably won’t find it advertised in the Murdoch press though.

Which is why it’s interesting to note that the people of Adelaide are starting to get angry and some are even revolting. Just goes to show that when the primary tool of government is media manipulation and spin and nothing of substance comes out the other end then the community patience starts to wear a bit thin.

That’s the problem – despite the big words and the grand plans and the supersized headlines, nothing of substance ever happens here. And that’s pretty much how the *spin meister* likes it because if you do something then you might upset someone – and upset people usually vote for oppositions.

The issue of the moment is transport – I have written about this previously. Perhaps the people of Adelaide have reached their *pain threshold* and have decided that it is time to make some noise because the government and the transport minister don't seem to react until they get their names in lights.

That noise is only going to get louder while the focus remains on spin and not substance.