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May 29, 2014

Top 5 Adelaide Scandals

Who doesn’t love a good scandal? Our director of counting to five (and back), Owen Lindsay, sure does, so he’s picked the most scandal-y five in Adelaide’s history to throw under the spotlight.

  • Words and pictures: Owen Lindsay


It has to be stated: Adelaide is not the site of many significant political scandals.While Eastcoasters have enjoyed the spectacle of Utegate, AWBgate and, most recently, Grangegate, we’ve had to make do with Magazinegate, which occurred in 2009 when former Premier Mike Rann got walloped with a rolled-up magazine.


While we’re not going to speculate on the reason for the walloping, you’d have to agree that any scandal that culminates in a swift clop to the head with a soft-cover periodical probably was not overly rich with intrigue and juice.



From 1985 until 1995, Adelaide was home to one of the best Formula One Grand Prix tracks in the world. Attendance was routinely high, and racers and spectators alike loved the unique, challenging circuit that wound its way through the south parklands.



And then in 1995 Melbourne hamburgled it from us. Coming in the wake of State Bank Collapsegate (see below), the theft was a devastating blow to the city’s confidence. Maybe we weren’t good enough, after all? And then the Grand Prix went on to haemorrhage money and spectators in Melbourne, while Adelaide’s Clipsal 500 became the most successful motorsport event in the country. In conclusion: booo, Jeff Kennett, booooooooooooooooooo.



In 2009, the glittering Torrens Lake – Adelaide’s centrepiece – suddenly drained, leaving behind only a stinking bog and a collection of confused ducks. Occurring just before peak festival season in March, it was as if the city had been abruptly and spectacular-ly de-pantsed.


The culprit: some sort of malfunction at the lake’s west-end weir, which caused the sluice gates to rise and 400 million litres of water to run free into the glorious Gulf of St Vincent. The illegal water has been at large ever since.



Photos of Hiroshima taken 10 years after the atomic bombing show much more progress than what happened in Adelaide in the decade following the State Bank collapse. The 1991 financial implosion of the State Bank left the city $3.15 billion in debt, and had devastating effects not only on Adelaide, but also on the very psychology of Adelaideans.


In order to repay the debt, successive state governments were forced into practicing extreme budgetary austerity; all but ensuring that, for years to come, our city skyline remained depressingly unchanged. Although the debt has now finally been fully paid, the collapse continues to haunt the city in the form of the former State Bank building – otherwise known as “that weird thin building on Currie St” – which remains our sole high-rise (115th tallest in Australia).



When Don Dunstan became Premier of South Australia in 1970, he ushered in a period of social renaissance. Under Don’s premiership, homosex-uality was decriminalised, the first female judge appointed, the death penalty abolished, and Aboriginal Australians’ land rights recognised. Naturally all of this annoyed stupid people.


One such person was a Melbourne clairvoyant, who prognosticated that – in response to Adelaide becoming a haven for degenerates – a floaty man in the sky was poised to send a tsunami to wipe us all from the face of the Earth. Here’s the worst part: the people of Adelaide believed him. As the day of reckoning approached people scuttled from their beachside residences in droves, selling property and buying emergency kayaks along the way. Don (who we can speculate was thoroughly disgusted) attempted to reassure his people by standing proud on the end of Glenelg Jetty to hold back the torrent. And it must have worked, too, because we’re not currently drowning.

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