Labor pledged to open 300 new hospital beds and employ 100 new doctors at the official launch of its election campaign in South Australia.
- Campaigning has started for the SA election, which will take place on March 19
- Labor held a big event at Adelaide Oval, while the Liberals held a series of smaller rallies that were livestreamed
- Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was at the launch of the South African Nationals campaign
At a presidential-style event at the Adelaide Oval in north Adelaide, Labor leader Peter Malinauskas made health the center of his promise to the electorate.
“Today I begin to announce new plans for the most urgent need of all,” Mr Malinauskas told party worshipers.
“Today I begin to announce our plan to resolve the creeping crisis.”
The promise of new beds includes 98 mental health beds spread across Queen Elizabeth, Modbury and Noarlunga hospitals and Mount Gambier.
Labor has said the mental health beds will cost $182 million, which they will fund with money the Liberal Party plans to spend on building a new multi-purpose arena on Adelaide’s waterfront.
Construction of the arena won’t start until 2025, but Labor says it will advance spending, which will be paid for by debt.
“It’s a serious, costed plan. Something we can only do because we’re not moving forward with Steven Marshall’s basketball stadium if we’re successful in the next election,” Malinauskas said. .
Labor said it also plans to spend funds on hiring 100 more doctors over the next four years.
This includes 50 in public hospitals in Adelaide, 10 in rural areas and a further 40 in other parts of the system.
But Prime Minister Steven Marshall criticized the decision.
“If he took a look at the budget documents that we’ve chaired over the past four years, it would be a massive handbrake, a massive slowdown on these increasing doctors in South Australia,” Mr. Marshall.
“We’ve put in over 100 every year since we were elected.”
Labor said the new doctors would add to current growth rates.
On the same day the Labor Party held a large launch event, Mr Marshall held a series of smaller events in Adelaide’s fringe constituencies which were broadcast live on social media.
“I don’t think there have been too many mass rallies in political parties around the world in the last two years with the coronavirus,” Mr Marshall said.
“So we’re doing smaller gatherings all over the state.”
As rising cases have continued during the pandemic, even during times of low COVID rates, Mr. Marshall criticized Mr. Malinauskas for promising to correct the practice.
“It started to rise in South Australia, the Labor Party brought the rise in South Australia, we are doing everything we can to untie it,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister in town for the launch of the national championships
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was in town to kick off the election campaign for South African nationals.
The Nationals are attempting a political comeback in South Australia, aiming for eight seats including two in the upper house.
It has been 12 years since the state’s last national deputy, Karlene Maywald, lost her seat in Riverland.
“We see people who span a wide variety of professions, ethnicities and backgrounds, but they combine in such a common form of belief in a stronger South Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
“A political force that represents disparate corners, a political force that is not shy about supporting things like religious freedoms.”
Nationals believe their candidate for the rural north-central seat of Frome, Loma Silsbury, will be one of the oldest people to stand for election in South Africa.
However, Mrs Silsbury was coy about her exact age.
“I’ve been told to say a woman never mentions her age, but I’ll tell you this, I have daughters who are in their 60s, so work it out from there, kids,” a- she declared.
The great-grandmother was one of the first 100 women to stand for parliament when she first contested a seat in the 1987 federal election for nationals.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, we have to be involved, we are our brother’s keeper,” she told the ABC.
Ms Silsbury said she was passionate about issues of water, mental health and “equality for regional and rural Australia”.
“In South Australia you come to Gepps Cross and anything north of Gepps Cross doesn’t exist,” she said.