Mike Rann

Michael David Rann MHA, CNZM (born 5 January 1953), Australian politician, is the 44th Premier of South Australia. He led the South Australian branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to minority government at the 2002 election, before gaining a landslide win at the 2006 election. Rann Labor retained majority government at the 2010 election despite a swing.

Rann has served a record time as South Australian Labor parliamentary leader, having led the party since 1994. He has been a South Australian MP in the House of Assembly since the 1985 election.

Early life

Rann was born in Sidcup, England, to working class parents. Most of his childhood was spent with his father, an electrician in South London. During his father’s service in the World War II at El Alamein, his mother was employed in an armaments factory. When Rann was nine his family emigrated from Blackfen to a rural village in New Zealand in 1962.

He completed a Bachelor and a Master of Arts in political science at the University of Auckland. He enjoyed and participated in student politics, including becoming a member of the New Zealand Greenpeace executive that sent Greenpeace III to Mururoa Atoll in 1972 in the campaign against French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean. As a member of Princes Street Labour, he also spent considerable time working on New Zealand Labour Party campaigns including that of Mike Moore. After university, Rann was a political journalist for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. Haydon Manning has stated that “it was reported that” Rann “struggled with being an objective reporter”.

Rann attended his brother’s wedding in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1977, and shortly afterwards moved there to accept a position with then Premier Don Dunstan’s Unit for Industrial Democracy. He worked for Dunstan as his press secretary, speech writer and adviser, and went on to serve Labor premiers Des Corcoran and John Bannon in the same capacities after Dunstan’s retirement from politics.

Manning has stated that one commentator reported that Rann was “frankly inspired by Dunstan’s idealism” as opposed to “Bannon’s cool electoral pragmatism”. Rann sometimes talked during this period of his ambitions to one day become Premier. Rann wrote speeches on, and assisted in policy development for, civil liberties, Aboriginal land rights, gay and women’s rights, and opposition to uranium mining. Revealing a vein of idealism, his early predilection was left of centre.

Parliament

Rann was elected to Parliament as the Member for Briggs at the 1985 election. After the 1989 election, he entered the ministry, becoming Minister for Employment and Further Education, Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Minister assisting in Ethnic Affairs. After Bannon resigned as premier over the State Bank collapse, Rann became Minister for Business and Regional Development, Minister of Tourism and Minister of State Services in the Lynn Arnold cabinet from September 1992.

When Briggs was abolished in an electoral redistribution, Rann was elected to the seat of Ramsay at the 1993 election. At the election, Labor lost government in a landslide due to the State Bank. Rann was promoted to deputy leader of his party following the defeat, however Arnold resigned as leader in September 1994. Rann became leader with the support of Labor Right powerbroker Don Farrell, who promised Rann two terms in the position. Rann achieved a 9.5 percent two-party-preferred swing to Labor in the 1997 election, narrowly failing to win government.

Premier

Rann remained Leader of the Opposition until the 2002 election. Labor came up one seat short of a majority, but independent Peter Lewis agreed to support Labor in return for a constitutional convention. The Liberal government was defeated in the legislature on 5 March, and Rann was sworn in as premier the next day. Lewis’ decision was controversial, but Rann later secured the support of conservative independent Rory McEwen and the Nationals’ Karlene Maywald by adding them to his cabinet, and Bob Such as speaker.

Rann led Labor to its strongest win, from a two-party-preferred low of 39% in 1993 under Lynn Arnold, to 56.8% at the March 2006 state election leaving the opposition with 15 of 47 seats.

In addition to Premier, Rann is also the current Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change.

Rann was appointed chairman of a new Australian Federation Council in July 2006, a council which aims to improve state-federal ties. Rann also ran for national presidency in the National Executive in August 2006, and made senior-vice presidency on 27% of the vote. As such, he also served a rotation of the Presidency of the ALP National Executive in 2008.

Although seen as pragmatic rather than reformist, some commentators point to innovative policies in his governments creation of boards, from the presidential nature of the boards’ appointment, to their independence from government, to their roles as monitors of policy progress. As such, Rann is sometimes considered closer to Dunstan than to Bannon. Rann is not aligned to either of Labor’s factions.

Rann has also personally likened his government to Dunstan’s, stating “I’m a totally different person to Don Dunstan, but in the ‘70s for different reasons South Australia stood head and shoulders above the crowd. We stood out, we were leaders. Interestingly, the federal Government is setting up a social inclusion unit based on ours. Again it’s about us not only making a difference locally, but being a kind of model for others, which is what Dunstan used to say he wanted us to be … a laboratory and a leader for the future.” Rann says he expects other reforms to be based upon those enacted under his government, citing the state’s strategic plan, a 10-year framework for the development of government and business. “It’s a plan for the state, not just promises at each election. A lot of colleagues interstate thought I’d gone mad when we named targets. Well we didn’t want to set targets we could easily pass and then pat ourselves on the back for, what’s the point of that?”

Popularity in recent years


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Former Prime Minister of Australia Gough Whitlam with wife Margaret at the wedding of Mike Rann and Sasha Carruozzo in July 2006
Rann has been a popular Premier with the best polls for a state government in the country, with his approach generally moderate and crisis-free. Newspoll has seen Rann achieve a historic 64 percent as Preferred Premier, and 61 percent on the two-party-preferred vote.

However, fourth quarter 2007 polling marked a turning point for Rann's Labor government since the previous election, on 54 percent of the two-party-preferred vote, a fall from the previous poll of five percent. Rann's Preferred Premier rating was at 50 percent compared to 25 percent for then Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith. Third quarter 2008 polling saw a continued drop in the primary vote, down three to 38 percent, with the Liberal vote up five to 40 percent, breaking 50–50 after preferences – the Preferred Premier figure recorded a six-point drop to 48 percent for Rann and up three to 30 percent for Hamilton-Smith. Some commentators put the poll slump down to "labour movement ructions" over the underfunded WorkCover liability (see 2008 Parnell–Bressington filibuster), consolidation of rural health services, and the continued degradation of the River Murray.

Newspoll saw Labor back in a winning position on 54 to 46 in late 2008, and then 56 to 44 in early 2009 along with increases in the Preferred Premier rating. Polling taken from The Sunday Mail during the 50-50 polling suggested that whilst there had been large swings away from the government in country areas, polling was holding relatively firm at 2006 election levels in the metropolitan areas.

The 2009 Frome by-election saw Labor pick up a small increase in the two-party-preferred vote. This, coupled with the “dodgy documents affair”, also known as “dodgy-gate”, saw Hamilton-Smith step down from the Liberal leadership, to be replaced by Isobel Redmond.

Rann visited the Governor of South Australia on 20 February 2010 to have the writs issued for the 2010 state election to be held on the fixed date of 20 March. One of his first moves in the campaign was to post a video explaining the election process on the “Mike Rann — Election 2010” site on YouTube. The site, set up in late January, complements Rann’s image as a keen user of social networking websites and has been described as a new media strategy for South Australian elections. Within six months of joining twitter in February 2009, Rann was being followed by 6,500 people.

Personal life

Rann was married to Jenny Russell until the late 1990s and had two children with her, David and Eleanor. On 15 July 2006, he married his second wife, actress and Greens member Sasha Carruozzo.

Affair allegations

On 22 November 2009, Seven Network’s Sunday Night current affairs program aired a paid television interview alleging that Rann had an affair with a Parliament House waitress between March 2004 and October 2005. She blamed the affair for the break up of her marriage, stating “I lost my family over this”, although she later revealed that she wanted her estranged husband back.

The lady said her husband became aware of her relationship with Rann in 2005, and that her husband wrote a series of letters to the Premier. At a Labor Party fundraiser at the National Wine Centre on 1 October 2009, a man later identified as her husband was observed to have hit Rann in the face several times with a rolled-up magazine. An aggravated assault charge was laid over the matter. The charge was subsequently downgraded to basic assault. The accused plead guity to the downgraded charge, and on 4 March 2010 he was given a two-year good behaviour bond, with no conviction recorded.

Rann commented before the interview went to air that claims of a sexual relationship were “wildly sensational”, and that once he had seen the program, he would respond with a “brief statement”. He also expressed frustration that he had been unable to “clear the air” because matters were before a court.

On 23 November 2009, the day after the allegations were aired, Rann called a press conference where he denied the allegations made in the interview, stating that they were malicious lies aimed at damaging him politically and personally. He said, “I have not had sex with her”, that he had “never ever hid the fact that I had a friendship with” the lady “over many, many years, and that friendship was one that was based on confidences and discussions, it was funny, it was flirty, just like any other friendship would be”. Rann also responded that “Channel Seven’s program was, in my view, outrageous.”

Polling was conducted by The Advertiser in December 2009 with answers to questions revealing little voter interest in the allegations.

In February 2010, the Seven Network paid an out-of-court settlement to Rann and issued an apology for suggesting the affair had an effect on Rann discharging his duties as Premier of South Australia. The following month, during a televised debate as part of the state election campaign, Rann also apologised for any stress that the friendship may have caused.

Honours

Rann, (who retains his NZ citizenship), was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to New Zealand – Australian relations, in the New Year’s Day Honours of 2009.

See: Wikipedia: Mike Rann

2010-10-26 Rann Government

Hundreds of public servants have marched from Victoria Square to Parliament House in Adelaide in another protest against the South Australian Government budget cuts.

Correctional services workers, nurses and firefighters have been among the public servants voicing concern about planned cuts.

The Government wants to change long service leave and leave loading entitlements.

It also will prune the public sector by close to 4,000 jobs.

Unionists have told the rally the State Government cannot be trusted.

The legislation to enable the changes is expected to be put to a vote in the Upper House this week.

The Public Service Association is challenging the legality of the budget decisions in the Industrial Relations Commission.

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2010-10-22 Rann Government


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More than 1,000 people have turned out to a community forum to protest against the South Australian Government's budget decision to cut funding for Keith and District Hospital.

The hospital says it is facing a 60 per cent cut to its state funding from next July.

Hospital board member Richard Vickery says residents spoke of the hospital's vital role in their community.

"People who had some very unfortunate farm accidents ... relayed that if Keith Hospital hadn't been here, their outcome or their sheer existence, if they had to go to hospital 50 or 100 kilometres further away, would have been substantially different," he said.

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2010-10-18 Rann Government

Public servants protest cuts

Posted on October 18, 2010, 7:07am

PUBLIC service workers fearful of losing their jobs took to the streets of Mount Gambier in protest last Thursday, speaking out about the “pressure and pain” that would be inflicted by more than 3500 job cuts flagged in the state budget.

One chant from around 20 angry public servants from fisheries, SafeWork SA and other government departments called for the treasurer to be sacked, while other messages stated “job cuts will equal service cuts”.

The public service sector faces significant cuts planned in the recent budget, with more than 3750 jobs set to go in the next four years.

Public servants who attended the rally in Mount Gambier were reluctant to comment and feared being identified in the media, with one individual saying “we have to go back to our jobs while we have one”.

One woman attended the rally in her lunch break, joining fellow workers in front of Independent MP Don Pegler’s office on Gray Street.

“It’s already happening as people are losing their jobs — we are calling for our work conditions, agreed on with the government in our enterprise agreement, not to be touched,” she said.

“Now they are in the process of taking away our incentives, our entitlements, so people are discouraged to stay.”

One anonymous protestor said it was anticipated that yesterday the Legislative Council would start debate on a bill for the reduction of long service leave provisions and the removal of annual leave loading for public service workers.

“They are overriding the enterprise agreement in which job security was the number one issue and the government’s promise to protect this was taken in good faith,” he said.

“Many are also now expecting and fearful of the forced redundancies which the government promised would never happen in the public service sector.”

South Australian Treasurer Kevin Foley admitted during the announcement of the budget that the government may have to break its election promise of no forced redundancies.

Another anonymous public servant said she had already been affected by the cuts that had been chiseling away at the public sector over the years.

“I lost my job for the department I was working for here in Mount Gambier and was told that it was due to a round of cuts the department was facing — I was made to reapply and relocate to a similar position in the Barossa Valley,” she said.

“I had to commute over the long distance to see my husband — the further cuts will see a lot more of this.”

She believed the cuts would only cripple the already strained public sector.

“We are already under pressure and understaffed — what will happen is they will make these cuts and realise the public sector cannot operate once these numbers are cut,” she said.

“You have to be there when somebody does leave to see the pressure it puts on the other staff members.”

Others present warned that if job entitlements in the public sector were cut, the private sector would be next.

“We have one lady who works with us owning a private business who has said in response to the cuts that she may consider taking away the entitlements of the staff working in her business,” they explained.

“This erosion of entitlements may see those who have leave loading now finding they are without it tomorrow.”

Public Service Association protests were carried out in other parts of the state yesterday, including Whyalla and Port Lincoln.

See: Borderwatch

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2010-10-14 Rann Government

There has been further protest from opponents of the South Australian Government’s budget savings affecting the public service.

Hundreds of public sector workers have rallied at Parliament House in Adelaide against job cuts and a planned reduction of leave entitlements.

ACTU president Ged Kearney was in Adelaide to address the protest.

She said the budget savings were an attack on the “good faith” principles of enterprise bargaining.

Some Adelaide court proceedings were affected when sheriff’s officers walked off the job to attend the rally.

Juries in a murder trial and a neglect case were told there would not be enough staff to keep the courtrooms open.

See: ABC News

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