South Australia

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South Australia (SA) is something of a curious paradox within Australia’s
federation. With a population of 1.67 million, it often remains peripheral to wider
political debates in Australia. In 2018, due to lack of population growth in
proportion to the rest of the country, it had its overall number of federal MPs in
the House of Representatives reduced from 11 to 10, thus further diminishing its
voice on the national stage. Federal elections tend not to be decided by outcomes in
SA. Economically, SA has been perceived to be a ‘rust-bucket’ state – economically
backward with a critical skills shortage, and an ageing population. According to
the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it comprises just over 6 per cent of the nation’s
economy. In 1991, the collapse of the State Bank was a significant blow to the
state’s economy. It has often taken SA longer to recover from national economic
downturns and usually ranks just above Tasmania in terms of many economic
metrics. More recently, with the closure of the Holden car plant in 2017 – and the
de facto end of car manufacturing in Australia – there remain ongoing concerns
about the future and vitality of the state. There is a lingering perception that SA is,
to quote a former premier of Victoria, a ‘backwater’...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralian Politics and Policy
EditorsPeter Chen
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781743326671, 9781743326688
ISBN (Print)9781743326800
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Politics - South Australia
  • Public policy, Australia


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