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SA Libs in turmoil: Redmond walks, Downer out of running

South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond has finally fallen on her sword. It’s a huge relief to many of her colleagues, writes Kevin Naughton of InDaily.

Isobel Redmond

South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond has finally quit. The Liberal leader told MPs at a party meeting in Port Pirie this morning she would step down “in the face of ongoing leadership speculation and disunity”.

A ballot for the position will be held at 9am Monday. InDaily understands retired federal minister Alexander Downer will not contest the leadership.

The decision opens up a range of options for a replacement leader, with lobbying beginning immediately. Contenders include former leader Martin Hamilton-Smith, whose challenge for the job last October fell one vote short, current deputy leader Steven Marshall and former deputy leader Vickie Chapman. Former leader Iain Evans is understood to have little or no support.

It’s understood Marshall is reluctant to take on the top job in his first term, having been elected in 2010. Marshall and Hamilton-Smith had stood last October on a joint ticket as leader and deputy — the same is likely to occur Monday with the possibility Marshall might be convinced to take the senior role to keep the Downer bid at bay.

State MPs have become frustrated with the ongoing speculation that the Downer option remained alive and were keen to make their own move to force his hand. A key player in the Downer move says the Downer option is now “expired” — “he’s a non-starter”.

Key MPs met last night before the Port Pirie gathering after successive days where Redmond struggled with media questions on public service staff cuts, and renewed speculation about Downer in this morning’s press. Despite the long-running speculation the reaction to the announcement indicates few had expected it to happen so quickly.

It caught everyone by surprise, but if this gives them a chance for a fresh start then I hope it is going to be a good one,” federal Liberal powerbroker Simon Birmingham said.

Liberal Senator Sean Edwards praised Redmond’s decision to resign. “I thought that she had made a courageous move, and one which I felt was probably necessary in the interests of the party going forward,” he said.

She identified it herself in her statement, that with continuing speculation about the leadership that is unhelpful. She is a very honourable person, and she understands that as well as any person that makes a study of the political environment. She has moved, I think very graciously, to end that speculation.”

A senior party source said: ”A huge sigh of relief is being felt around the entire party — all sides and interests are glad this chaos is over.”

Redmond first entered politics in 2002 as the member for Heysen. She became leader of the opposition in July 2009 after incumbent Hamilton-Smith stepped aside. Before moving into politics, Redmond ran her own law firm in the Adelaide Hills.

In her statement this morning she vowed “whoever is chosen as the new leader has my guarantee of my loyalty and support”.

I will work conscientiously as the member for Heysen and do everything in my power to ensure a Liberal win at the election in march 2014 — a change of government which this state so desperately needs,” she said, without indicating if she would recontest the seat.

Today’s decision followed another destabilising leak to the media: The Australian received a copy of an email exchange between party stalwart and former one-term federal MP Michael Pratt and Downer, with Downer calling the performance of the state Liberals “a sad tale” and talk of him seizing the leadership as “very interesting”.

Premier Jay Weatherill says Redmond’s resignation is “the culmination of the most treacherous and deceitful undermining of a leader we have seen in this state”.

*This article was originally published at InDaily

24
  • 1
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s a damn shame, the only time I’ve voted Liberal in a state election was because of Redmond. Have to laugh at Liberals saying they’re glad the chaos is over. Self induced chaos.

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Can someone talk Cory Bernardi into doing something for lifting the tone in federal politics - by taking on this “Position Vacant”?

  • 3
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    The regulation daily klewso quip.

  • 4
    TheFamousEccles
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Sorry klewso, but Cory is a rare lunatic, and I don’t think South Australians should take this one for the team! We don’t want ‘im!

  • 5
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    It is an astute and pertinent one floorer.
    But I suppose Bernadi is too busy being Abbotts advance party for his Tea Party money grubbing exercises in England and America.

  • 6
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    floorer;
    As for voting Liberal at the last election one would have thought any intelligent South Australian could tell the difference between a broken down Clysdale and an Aussie Whaler.
    You backed the wrong horse there, me china plate

  • 7
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Mike, nothing astute about it. Just trying to be clever for its own sake. Redmond won more of the popular vote last election so I wasn’t alone.

  • 8
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Floorer;
    Never mind, there is always the next race. But that should teach you not to put all your brass on the flip of a coin by blind ‘spinner’.

  • 9
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Mike, Redmond was socially progressive and didn’t appear to be tied to any particular church, like the shop workers union for instance. This appealed to me. IF…. the Liberals had all bonded behind her I can see no reason they couldn’t have won the next election. Labor’s been in office for a long time.

  • 10
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Foorer;
    For ever and a day the SA Libs will be cursed by the illegitimate son of the Adelaide Aristocracy and their ilk.
    Add in the Bernadi, Pyne Tea party clique and surely you have an unbakeable damper to contend with.

  • 11
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Lord Downer out of the game? Drat. That just made the year less interesting.

  • 12
    dazza
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Yes klewso, South Australians should take one for the team and insist Bernardi continues to be the Right hand man for Abbott. I mean how “right”can you go with these two. Come on ‘Adelaidians’, and help the Gillard team, vote for Bernardi. (tic)

  • 13
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    You have to admit, it is funny the way these Right-pedallers react to being treated the same flippant way they seem to think they have every Right to treat those that disagree with their way of thinking?

  • 14
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Klewso
    A bit of flppancy does help and you have a masters in it.
    Keep up the good work!

  • 15
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Presuming your referring to me klewso, left or right has jack all to do with it.

  • 16
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    And Redmond is not a victims of the notorious, right wing,
    conservative misogyny?
    The identity of the forty thieves who stole the leadership from Malcolm might also include some of those who have dispatched Redmond.
    Well, “good, loyal liberal girls”, no qualms about where “your” party might be heading under the Abbott?
    Second class citizens, never to emulate Margaret Thatcher?
    Now why should anyone vote for a good loyal Liberal girl if they are going to be treated as second rate?
    Wasn’t there at least a “Pope Joan” at one time?
    But never a Woman, Liberal Prime Minister?

  • 17
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Let’s face it if the conservatariat in their various poses, had kept a civil tone in their key-boards - rather than that supercilious, dismissive, sarcastic, patronising, intolerant, pompous, even vicious and flippant one, and kept a pair of eyes “for every occasion” (rather than just the one - cycling around in circles), and had that selective amnesia checked-out along with their political vertigo - you probably would never have heard of me.

  • 18
    floorer
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    pop

  • 19
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Regarding religious right wing abhorrence of women leaders the Argentinian Junta took theelection of a woman PM in the UK as a sign that the poms had lost their cojones and that an invasion of The Falklands would beget no response as the weaklings with a woman leader quaked in fear of the mucho macho’s who had been practising throwing helpless victims out of helicopters as proof of their courage.
    The New Zealanders sent a contingent to join the Brits but Australia, under the Conservatives decided to break the tradition of centuries in order that no Australian service people went up against South American F-ists.
    Such is the party of The Abbott today.
    Isobel, you were the wrong gender.

  • 20
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Ongoing leadership speculation and disunity”’
    Hasn’t another woman leader suffered this same problem?
    From the very same misogynistic, politico-religious, rightard kennels?
    Barefaced Bernardi?
    Menzies would be turning in his grave as his “Child” is molested out of all recognition.
    Menzies’Child hasn’t changed, it has been replaced altogether.

  • 21
    Paddy Forsayeth
    Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Hamis…You are so right. The Liberal party that in my time was represented by Fraser has been demolished. It may well have been a party for the “Bosses” but it still had a fair and compassionate streak. The current mob are conservative, better still “anti anything other than themselves” and necessarily for them everything political has to be Left, if not Far Left. As a Socialist I am very much for free enterprise-you get what people are prepared to pay you. I don’t like bludgers and I think that everyone needs to do their fair share. I do not agree or condone the aquisition, legal and otherwise, of individuals accruing obscene ammounts of cash and assets. Abbott and Co. are a front for untrammelled accumulation of “wealth”. To be fair, The Labor party is not too far behind. How the general public is able to be screwed to the extent that it does is beyond me.We need a real Socialist Party and tell Clive Palmer, Gina Rhinehart and Co. to pull their greedy hands out of the collective till.

  • 22
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Surely the supporters of the Real Liberals are still out there?
    Including former Real Liberal Malcolm Fraser?
    They would have to start another party because of all the Branch stacking by the Fake Liberals in “safe” seats.
    Would it then become an “unsafe seat” election?
    Democracy: it is so scary!

  • 23
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Noticed how that other, Andrew Crook article on the SA Liberals suddenly became “Locked” this morning after some ugly, unmoderated commentary from a notorious rightard?
    By Crikey!!!

  • 24
    Hamis Hill
    Posted Friday, 1 February 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Craig Thomson article, previously unlocked as proven by the existence of posts from non- Crikey susbscribers.
    Well, if Abbott can walk away, then why not Crikey?

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