Federal Member for Barker Patrick Secker seems to be doing his best to attract a reputation as a hoon driver. For the second time in recent months the South Australian Liberal faces allegations over a decidedly non-political issue – his driving.

Now it seems the MP who rarely hogs the spotlight in Parliament will take centre stage next month, when both court matters will be heard.

It was revealed this week Secker was charged by police with failing to keep a safe distance from a vehicle in the Riverland on 4 April. Court documents allege Mr Secker tailgated a vehicle on the Sturt Highway, between Berri and Renmark. Mr Secker has been scheduled to appear in the Berri Magistrates’ Court on 7 August, while he will also appear in the Mount Gambier Magistrates’ Court on 29 August to face a separate driving offence.

Secker has already stated he would argue for leniency on a speeding charge over that incident, which resulted from him speeding up to overtake a B-double truck. “I don’t think this case is fair and I will fight it out in court,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is show my innocence and I think I should have the same right as any other person. I don’t believe I have shown a bad example.”

And while some pollies believe that any publicity is good publicity, these court appearances may indeed yield a backlash, especially against an MP who seems to be facing a whisper campaign to have him unseated. Speculation is rife that Secker will be challenged from within his own party before the 2007 Federal election.

Local media has been reporting that outspoken Naracoorte Lucindale Councillor Ashley Jared may in fact have Secker’s seat in his sights. Jared, whose opinions regularly feature in local publications such as The Border Watch, may nominate for Liberal Party preselection in Barker.

But none of this seems to be bothering Patrick Secker, who is confident that he will retain preselection, even if challenged.

Peter Fray

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