With a state election at the beginning of next year and the donations drying up, you’d think the South Australian state Libs would want to put their best face forward as they prepare to choose a state president. Er…

Former federal speaker Neil Andrew was tipped to take the job, but has declined. Instead, support seems to be building behind former deputy premier Graham Ingerson.

The Labor Party couldn’t ask for anything better. Ingo was forced on to the backbench in disgrace twice. He was a key player in the factional wars that turned the Liberals’ record 1993 majority into minority government in just one term. And he was the minister initially responsible for the wildly unpopular privatisation of the state’s electricity – announced just months after it had been categorically ruled out at the 1997 state election.

The local meeja will be delighted, too. An, er, impromptu press conference he gave when they leapt into a lift in pursuit of him over electricity back in his days as deputy provided more fun footage than any goof tapes.

Nominations close on Friday. Few people are talking about another contender, former Australian Hotels Association heavy John Lewis. He’s a proven lobbyist with strong links to the business community. Perhaps after a mauling in Morgan and a nasty Newspoll in the last few weeks the local Libs know they won’t get any corporate cash – and just don’t care.

Peter Fray

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