There is a fire here in South Australia. It burns strong through the city streets and clambers up the Adelaide Hills. It is a mesmerising sight, while for some it challenges what has become a (un)comfortable norm for many, for the past 16 years. This fire is the Liberal Party of South Australia.
Touching down on Wednesday evening in Adelaide, to the stark contrast of dry heat I was greeted by Member for Bright and Candidate for Black David Speirs’ Office Manager with a big hug and a smile and promise of a very busy 12 day visit.
We travelled through the streets of Adelaide, receiving a first hand history of Adelaide as we travelled to the Hills for where would become home for the next week. I was told how Xenophon seemed to be starting to neutralise, a reminder of our own One Nation threat back home, however this was not something for the Liberals, or even Labor, to become complacent in. The battle lines were still very, very clear.
It was incredibly different to what I am used to. They do not put corflutes on fences (although David now does since his visit to Queensland #KnowledgeExchange), instead opting for sign poles, public fences and any fixture you can wrap a zip tie around on public land. Their signs must not exceed 1x1m, but there is no rule on the shape, just the surface space.
Our Southern counterparts are very big on messaging, which really seems to resonate with local voters. Almost every corflute has a slogan or an election commitment on it. And as you drive the busy streets you come face-to-face with grinning mugs and flashy words, even as far some saying “Let’s stick Dick in”.
Thursday morning we reached the office by 8am. Here I found the war rooms that would become my new workplace. Corflutes littered the floor, bags for letterboxing and boxes after boxes of DLs with election announcements. Two staff popped into the office, grabbed bags and corflutes and raced out.
“We need more signs up, and we have announcements to get out.” I was told as they disappeared.
“We have new elector letters to do today and we need to organise our booth boxes”. My tasks were set.
It was incredible watching the office jump on the phone, calling volunteers and organising to drop letters to be stuffed and sealed to their homes for collection the next morning.
For the next two days I assisted in organising booth boxes, stuffing envelopes and learning about how David conducted his listening posts.
This is where things became interesting.
Saturday morning we set up in a local shopping decked out with a Woolworths, Aldi and Big W and littered with vacant shop fronts that hadn’t been filled in far too long thanks to inefficient Government.
There were three volunteers on the listening post. David would speak to constituents, his Office Manager would field those waiting, and myself and the other lovely lady were tasked with the mission to hand out David’s enviro-bags.
These bags were stuffed with a shopping list notepads and an intro-brochure about David. And didn’t these go down a treat in the centre – especially as South Australia does not have single use plastic bags anymore.
In less than two hours, we had distributed 400 bags and I had heard the most incredible comments coming from locals:
“I’ve already voted for David!”
“I’ve always voted Labor, but we need a change. I’m voting Liberal”
“Keep it up ladies, we need to David and the team in!”
And always my personal favourite when it comes to our hardworking Members of Parliament.
“David will be leader one day!”
There is a simple reality, campaigning in South Australia. The state wants a change. They know they need a change. While the jury is still out as to whether our amazing Southern Liberals will form Government next weekend, there is absolutely a fire tearing through South Australia, and if we do this right, this fire will burn out the Labor heartland and from the ashes, a Liberal Government will rise.
Eleisha Rogers is a member of the Young LNP in Queensland