Looks, charm and media savvy can take you a long way in politics, and ‘Golden Boy’ Peter Malinauskas has proved this by winning the SA election in a landslide.

His opponent, Steven Marshall, knew the writing was on the wall when publicity shots of a shirtless Malinauskas frolicking in a pool with his kids, went viral last week.

Last November, it was Marshall who ploughed ahead with opening SA’s borders, saying the state was ready to reopen.

When Omicron hit days later, the Premier copped a hammering for it.

As hospitalisations went down in February, Marshall again talked about the need to ‘return to normal’.

The Head of SA’s Police Union agreed with him, calling for an end to the police mandate, while Adelaide University’s VC reversed his earlier plan to adopt mandates.

SA’s Hospital workers’ Health Directive was amended, removing the mandate on hospital contractors and delivery-drivers.

Police Commissioner Stevens’ then made the stunning announcement that the mandate on SA police and other staff had been revoked.

The Commissioner told ABC radio that “Omicron is less severe than previous strains” and:

“…our hospital numbers are falling dramatically, (providing) opportunities to continue to reduce restrictions going forward”.

He said he hoped the most recent extension of the emergency declaration to 1 April 22, would be the State’s last.

Density limits for hospitality and other venues, were scrapped, along with all ‘capacity caps’ on household gatherings.

Singing and dancing was allowed again in all settings.

“People want to get on with their lives,” Marshall said.

But many other powerful interests, including the media, did not agree.

The new Premier’s political mentor is Jay Weatherill, SA’s former Premier.

Weatherill now works for the Mindaroo Foundation, founded and funded by Australia’s billionaire blue-blood – and Bill Gates wannabe – Andrew Forest.

The new Premier’s record as Minister in the Weatherill government, reveals a strong authoritarian streak, particularly as Police and Corrections Minister.

Minister for Health when Labor lost in 2018, Malinauskas ran his entire 2022 campaign on health issues, while Marshall ran his on the economy.

What all this means for South Australia’s recent moves towards a ‘return to normal’ isn’t clear.

But early indicators suggest things aren’t looking good.

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