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Don't cry for me South Australia

By Malcolm King - posted Friday, 3 October 2014

I have a fantasy that Juan Peron takes over South Australia, gets rid of the Liberal and Labor parties and turns the Advertiser into a newspaper. I picture him and Evita on the Town Hall balcony in King William Street, addressing the crowd.

It's a lovefest. Juan's uniform, tailored by an old SS officer, is showered in Coopers Ale, Beerenberg jam and frog cakes. Our savior!

Unfortunately, Argentina's problems of the 1950s bear no relationship to what is happening in Crow Land today. South Australia's economic issues are far more serious.


The state's share of the national economy has shrunk over the last 24 years from 7.3 per cent in to 6.1 per cent. It currently exports just 4.3 per cent of Australia's goods and services. State GDP growth is languishing at 1.3 per cent per annum, down from 1.8 per cent in 2012/13. The economy is regressing.

Real unemployment - not the ridiculous ABS methodology - is around 12 per cent and climbing. In the some parts of Adelaide's northern suburbs, real youth unemployment is close to 40 per cent. In the southern suburbs its about 25 per cent and 20 per cent in our regional centres.

There are some parallels though between SA now and Argentina's neighbor, Uruguay, in the 1950s and 60s. Uruguay's economy boomed until just after the Korean War, due to expanding beef and wool exports. It created a strong welfare state in which the government redistributed wealth and protected workers. Think of the Don Dunstan years. Many lefties can think of nothing else.

After the Korean War, no one wanted Uruguay's beef or wool. The economy crumbled. There was mass unemployment and inflation, manufacturing collapsed. The bills went up and the standard of living dropped. The government employed one in every five working Uruguayans. Nepotism ruled. Sounds like Adelaide today.

Then came the Tupamaros – revolutionaries who were young, groovy and politically 'right on'. They robbed banks, gave money to the poor and made love with beautiful women. It's unlikely a guerilla group would ever get up in the 'City of Churches' – sleep with beautiful women? 'What's in it for me?' they'd ask.

The Tupamaros were the polar opposite of the SA legislature who in the main, are graveyard zombies straight out of Stephen King's Pet Sematary.


Have you ever noticed that when the fecal matter hits the fan, it's the poor who cop it in the neck? In SA they have company – the middle class. This is something new in our history.

It's also one reason why the local media is dedicated to creating external enemies (Al Qaeda, ISIS, housing trust tenants, single mothers, etc) or 'mythologies' that enforce the status quo; or stories that are so banal and absurd, you wonder whether Dada is making a comeback.

The real reason is because the elites are scared because they can see this getting terribly out of hand. We are looking as massive levels of unemployment in SA in both the working and middle class over the next 30 years, and the government has all the kinetic appeal of a Myer store window dummy.

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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