Liberals squeal while Labor promises to change

Liberal leader Steven Marshall: the deal to give Labor government is a "death wish for South Australia". Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily
Liberal leader Steven Marshall: the deal to give Labor government is a "death wish for South Australia". Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Adelaide | Senior Liberals have attacked the legitimacy of the state Labor Government following the weekend’s deal between Premier Jay Weatherill and independent Geoff Brock to deliver the party power in South Australia.

Brock says he decided to back Labor to ensure the stability of government in South Australia, in the wake of revelations that fellow independent MP Bob Such will be facing surgery and at least two months’ leave.

Weekend counting of votes has confirmed that Labor will hold 23 seats and the Liberals 22 in the new parliament, with Brock and Such holding the balance of power.

In a move which “shocked” Liberal leader Steven Marshall, Brock fronted a press conference with Weatherill on Sunday morning to announce he would be supporting a minority Labor Government.

Federal Liberal minister Christopher Pyne today described the new Labor government as “illegitimate”.

“Jay Weatherill’s government is an illegitimate government,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Pyne said the Liberals had achieved 53 per cent of the two-party preferred vote in the March 15 state election.

He argued this showed the electorate boundaries were drafted in such a way that Labor could win the election with 47 per cent of the vote.

“That needs to be closely looked at,” he said.

Marshall said this morning that “I believe Jay Weatherill doesn’t have a mandate to govern”.

However, he told radio FIVEaa that he “accepted this result” and the party would focus on holding the government to account.

Marshall also criticised Brock, the member for the rural seat of Frome, who he said had opted for short-term stability instead of the long-term interests of the state.

He hardened his rhetoric on ABC radio later, saying the governance deal was a “death wish for South Australia”.

Weatherill sealed his deal with Brock after driving to Port Pirie on Saturday to meet with him after news broke of Such’s illness. Marshall said he spoke with Brock via the phone several times on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Weatherill this week is moving to establish a new government, hinting today that he might give up the Treasury portfolio and giving strong indications that two women would be elevated to the Cabinet to replace former ministers Chloe Fox and Grace Portolesi, both of whom lost their seats at the March 15 election.

It seems likely that the left’s Susan Close will be be elevated to Cabinet, while from the Right the options would be Leesa Vlahos or Zoe Bettison.

The announcement of the new Cabinet is likely to be at least a week away, however it is certain that Geoff Brock will be sworn in as regional development and local government relations minister. A position in the ministry was offered to him, he says, by both sides of politics.

Senior Labor MP Michael Atkinson, who now holds the safest Labor seat in South Australia, is likely to maintain his position as Speaker of the House of Assembly.

“I expect to be Speaker,” he told InDaily this morning. “I enjoy it very much and, modestly, I think I’ve done a good job.”

He added that he believed he had the confidence of the Liberal Opposition, as well as his own side of politics.

Labor’s Right and Left caucuses will meet this week, possibly as early as tomorrow, to discuss candidates for the ministry.

Weatherill told FIVEaa that he wanted to replace Fox and Portolesi with women to maintain female representation in the Cabinet.

“I think it’s important that we at least maintain that – if possible increase our representation,” he said.

“We’re proud of the fact that we do have very significant representation, probably better than many jurisdictions but there’s no good reason why women shouldn’t be represented equally in all of our institutions including Parliament and Cabinet.”

When asked if he would maintain the dual roles of Premier and Treasurer he said: “I think it was important that I stepped up in the way in which I did, in both of those roles, but that’s something I’m going to reflect on and we’ll obviously be making some announcements about that soon.”

The Premier also indicated his Government would change its approach, particularly to regional South Australia and business.

“Obviously you’ve got to listen to the result and the first thing is to try and get in step with what happened on Saturday, learn from the result,” he said. “Obviously we’re not well represented in the regions; it’s important for us to reach out to the regions.

“It’s clear the small business constituency hasn’t seen us as their representative, even though I’d argue that we’ve done a lot of very important things for them, so I’m going to reach out and obviously the people that supported us, we need to maintain the commitments we made to them throughout the election so there’s a lot of work to be done.

“I fully accept that there are be lessons to be learnt by us and we will learn them.”

InDaily understands there are also likely to be significant changes in Labor’s back rooms, with some long-standing political operatives looking to move on.

Brock defended his decision today, saying that supporting Labor would deliver the most stable government possible in the current situation.

In a statement, he said that if the party’s split 23 seats between them, the State Government would have continued in caretaker mode for two to three months waiting for Such to return to work.

“If that were to happen, long delays in decision-making could result in unfair increases in costs” to businesses, he said.

- with AAP

  • Alan

    What a load of bollocks. Going once going twice sold to the highest bidder.

    • Follow the rules

      It’s not the highest bidder, it’s the best deal. That’s what politics is about.

      • Alan

        So you voted for this guy to be elevated to the ministry.

        • caitsith01

          Nobody votes on the ministry (or even the Premier), try reading some basic information about how the Westminster system works.

  • higha

    Can anyone advise whether 35.3% is the lowest primary vote a party has obtained to form government?

    • Oz Hog

      No Joe Bjelke got in with 28 in Qld a few years ago. Sort of kills Whiney Pyney’s arguement eh?

    • Follow the rules

      The Federal Liberals (our very own Tony Abbott) got 32% primary vote in 2013 (as against Labor’s 33.4%).

  • SS

    Not sure what all the hoo ha is about. Labour had enough seats to form government with Brock , liberal did not. Nothing to do with the highest bidder. Everything to do with forming a stable government.

    • Grommit

      Like **** it wasnt the highest bidder. Every time this happens. Labor makes the grandiose promises, and even on paper, then doesnt honour a damn one of them. Pretty easy to make any promise really, when you know you arent going to keep any of them.

      Once someone HAS the “power”. They dont need you any more. The promises arent worth shite. And after they have done this so many time you would think people would stop falling for it. But it seems the LESS experienced (could also be called gullible) still do. I did note that Bob Such (who has been around a while) bailed out and wouldnt play.

      • The Hammer

        would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

  • Mr Nanny State

    Of course the LIberals now have to look hard and long at how they lost an election against a Government with a projected debt of $14 billion. Something very, very wrong with the advisement they got.

  • GoodGirl

    How offensive for the people of South Australia who must vote by law, yet their preference has no value what so ever! The majority of the State wants Liberals, but the minority rules. I am disgusted by this system and I would be ashamed to be accepting such a “win”.

    • Follow the rules

      Look at the rules. Our democracy can’t work any other way unless we adopt a different set, which is another issue altogether.

    • caitsith01

      Unless 51% of people gave their first preference to the Liberals, you can’t say that the majority of the state wanted them.

      After all, if people in Such’s electorate wanted a Liberal government, they would have elected a Liberal member.

      It’s amazing how many people do not understand how our system works. It is not mob rule where the party with 50.0001% of the TPP vote wins.

  • Mongrel

    Pyne and the Liberals have no idea about the model of democracy used in Australia: its how many seats you get, stoopid, not what the popular vote is. Given the electoral boundaries were last influenced by the Liberals, its a double irony that they complain about it when they still lose.
    I know its just political noise, but could somebody shove a sock in Pyne’s mouth? He is an embarassment.

    • caitsith01

      They know how it works, they just don’t respect it.

      They didn’t respect the democratic result after 2010, and they don’t respect this democratic result.

      Quite disturbing really that the people currently in power at the federal level are prepared to call a perfectly legitimate result ‘illegitimate’. It’s the kind of language Putin has recently been using to justify his fascist moves in the Ukraine, and the kind of language used a lot in Europe in the 20th century.

  • SpecialOperationsExecutive

    Short term gain for long term pain and obviously not enough South Australians have bled enough or felt enough pain. Gluttons for punishment.
    And Brock couldn’t learn anything from the Peter Lewis or 3 amigos fiasco? Quite myopic and his ‘reasoning’s’ disingenuous.

    • Follow the rules

      Some people will always believe in myths. The Peter Lewis period was one of the best governments in living memory.

  • andlamsa

    Libs repeating the same ‘illegitimate’ bleating here as they did with previous minority Federal Govt. Stay tuned for the rest of their tactics in time – eg spinning this as a ‘dysfunctional’ Govt in every 2nd sentence for the next 4 years etc.
    Perhaps they would better served to think about what to do differently in 4 years time, rather than sooking about it. Taking the electorate into your confidence and releasing full policies in advance might help, rather than assuming you’ll just waltz in with a small target strategy.

  • Very diappointed

    It seems that Brock forgot about the conservative leanings of his electorate. He also exposes himself to criticism for accepting a cabinet post. Above all, one wonders whether he has compromised his own principles. It is a sad story which may well have a sad outcome for all concerned, particularly the taxpayer

    • Peter

      What criticism? His clear intention is to represent the people who voted for him and he can best do that by being a voice in cabinet. If only all politicians were as clear minded and considerate as Brock.

      • The Observer

        Does that mean compromising on one’s political principles?

    • Follow the rules

      Labor got the majority of the electorates. That’s what our system is based on.

      • Wondering

        A very simplistic view which ignores the political agenda upon which Brock, a non Labor person, was elected

    • caitsith01

      Why didn’t the people in Brock’s electorate vote for the Liberal Party, then?

  • Sena

    Pyne preaching the legitimacy of a government- what a shame,
    what legitimacy we got for pre-election promises and post-election action by his “Gun-Ho”
    party putting on all underpaid workers on firing line.

  • Steve Wilkins

    This is a blessing in disguise for the Libs. Over the 4 years all major infrastructure projects come to a close, Holden will shut and unemployment will sky-rocket. Guess who’s going to get the blame?
    Nevertheless, with the Libs scoring over 100,000 more votes, it’s hardly a democracy – is it?

    • Oz Hog

      You mean the major infrastructure projects that Labor organised?

      • Pyrmonter

        Yup – the unfunded ones that have led to annual deficits of $1 billion per year, despite big GST-funding boosts. That’s 3 State Banks a decade.

    • Mark W.

      Lets change our system to the NZ mixed member proportional representation (MMP) then the Greens and Family First who each got a number of votes would have seats in the lower house.

      O’ I forgot the Labour and Liberal would not be able form majority governments.

      • mike

        Plus 1 for mixed representation!

    • Follow the rules

      Of course it’s a democracy – for people through their electorates, not for parties.

    • caitsith01

      Sounds similar to the wisdom dished out at the last election – yet here we are again.

      As for democracy, I suggest you read up on the basics of how our system works.

    • http://www.billspragg.id.au Bill Spragg

      What about the Greens 100,000 votes and no seat in the House of Assembly. An 8.7% of the first preference votes should yield 4 seats. How do you think this 100,000 votes feels about our democratic process? True democracy can only occur with proportional representation. Bring on multi-member proportional representation à la NZ, Tasmania and ACT.

  • bob@tusmore

    We keeping hearing about “the conservative leanings of the independents electorates”. Well, the electorates had a chance to vote for their Liberal candidate and they didn’t. Game over. If unhappy, change the rules for 2018, because the rules for this election have been set for 20years +

  • gabbo

    You’ve obviously done the maths Mr Pyne. Now apply the same principle to the last federal election and your conscience will cause you to immediately hand 13 of your seats to Labor.

  • Rottenkindle

    Argueably an appropriate outcome. In power again Labor will have to defend any economic chaos resulting from their 12 years in office, unable to blame the Liberal as Bill Shorten has Tony Abbott for the demise of the car industry & everything else which fell apart under labor stewardship. The real problem is neither side is any use. Unlike ‘Youi’” they just don’t get it”

  • Ellie

    So in the 1998 election when Labor got 4,454,306 votes and the Liberals got 3,764,707 votes but Howard still won Christopher Pyne believes that it should have been a Labor victory? Oh wait…

    • caitsith01

      Do we dare hope anyone in our media will put this to the good Mr Pyne?

  • Mike W.

    Pyne should butt out. He should concentrate on the National Government and leave State politics alone. The Libs are failing at the National level on many fronts not the least being policies with regard to protecting our environment….look at what is happening with with regard to the Barrier Reef., forest agreements and climate change. Australia is now the only Country among sixty six going backwards on effective action to reduce carbon levels….its direct action policy is overated, expensive and will not work even though the target is only for a 5% reduction..People are also getting the message about the short comings of the liberal Party in Queensland. While the SA Labour party has to lift its game its vastly better than the alternative!

  • Mark

    As soon as Such became unwell, the result was always going to go this way. If Brock had chosen Liberal (the best thing for the long term interests of the State) it would have been 23 seats each and with it unlikely of an imminent return to politics for Such we would have had a hung parliament and possibly a new election (and don’t rule out a bi-election in Fisher). If this occurred Brock would lose his position of political power. Side with Labour for political/personal gain ? or side with liberal face a new election where it is more than likely that Brock would lose his new found special and influential powers in the political spot light and new South Australian Government. The people of South Australia have spoken – the result speaks for themselves – more people voted for change than against change, yet we have to endure 4 more years of a labour government, increased taxes and more debt, debt, debt.

  • Mark W.

    Don’t these pollies understand our electoral system?
    You need a majority of seats in the lower house. The Liberals do
    not have that.

    • Stephan Mavrakis

      No. The Labor Party does. Right.

  • Anonymous

    How on earth is it that people like Pyne and Abbott, whose arguments indicate that they don’t understand Australian electoral systems, are even allowed to stand for public office, never mind actually represent an electorate?

    Or is it that they do understand, and fully realise that a Labor government in SA is a perfectly legitimate result given the system we have, and they’re just muddying the waters with pathetic, self-interested point scoring that does nothing to further the debate, or democracy?

    Either way, it makes both of them look like utter buffoons.

  • Harry Harris

    It will be interesting to see if Mr Brock with his Minister’s hat on (and pay and driver and guaranteed higher pension) and wish for stability for all South Australians would really dare to oppose another land sale without tender; another development application without consultation; another tokenistic appointment based on gender not ability…etc etc etc. Well done Mr Brock…all that glistens is certainly not gold….but as with Tippett, Franklin et al….it’s not about the money is it?

  • John

    While not a fan of the Labor party at the moment, Brock’s decision is the most sensible for stable government. Perhaps if the Libs had ben a bit more open with policy, instead of promising to deliver and then holding to the last minute, they may have won. Don’t think it was helpful that during the campaign Joe Hockey announces that he’s drawn ups “for sale” list and it contains state assets. People are sick of governments selling assets, without benefit to the community and we all end up paying more. In the absence of anything from SA libs, with Pyne making more statements than anyone, it really did make you wonder who was running who. This was scary for me, not enough to vote Labour, but enough to not vote Libs.

    • L1

      +1

  • Anonymous

    The reality, of course, is that the Liberal’s two-party preferred majority is almost entirely accounted for by the strength of their vote in just four seats out of the 47: Bragg, Chaffey, Flinders and MacKillop. Looked at like that, it’s quite obvious that the Liberals simply didn’t do enough to win the trust of the rest of the state. The same data also makes a very good case for the validity of a seat-based system over a proportional one. SA isn’t a homogeneous population, so why should relatively small areas of the state hold the rest of us under their thrall?

    Weatherill is almost certainly correct in saying that Abbott lost the SA election for the Liberals, though I’m sure Marshall played a part too.

    • The Hammer

      Indeed. Just because conservatives huddle together in enclaves doesn’t mean they should get extra representation. If only Pyne could read, I’d forward your comment to him.

  • Pedro King

    Our Electoral system is about number of seats not majority of votes. You need to win more seats than the other party. This has favoured both sides of politics over the years and only the loser complains. If it was about South Australia and not self interest then Marshall would congratulate and not complain. At the end of the day the new boy on the block was out manoeuvred by the seasoned politician and he lost the unlosable election, landslide they all said. Rember the tortise and the hare Mr Marshall never underestimate your opponent. Oh well you have a few years to strategise if you’re still the Leader of the Opposition!

  • Jeremy Lomman

    Interesting system. Ask the people. They vote for change. And don’t get change.

    • Anonymous

      The electorate voted for 23 Labor MPs, 22 Liberals, and two independents. Unless you’re suggesting that there was corruption at the ballot box – in which case, we’d all be delighted for you to produce your evidence – the people of South Australia got exactly what we voted for.

      If you want a different electoral system, get up and do something about it: campaign. But don’t try peddling the ludicrous idea that you’ve been diddled out of the rightful result, because that simply isn’t the case.

      • Jeremy Lomman

        C’mon now sport. May I call you sport? You know the legitimate system, once people have voted their preferences is not as simple as that. You have asked below “why should relatively small areas of the State hold the rest of us under their thrall” and yet a tiny rural population did just that for a number of days.

        • Anonymous

          Call me whatever you want; it’s not about to make your argument intelligible.

          “You know the legitimate system, once people have voted their preferences is not as simple as that.”

          There’s obviously a problem with your grammar, but beyond that, I honestly don’t have the faintest idea what you’re trying to say. And I’m not convinced that you do, either.

      • KJC

        So so correct….look at the seats where the Libs got there huge majorities….not in the big city seats…but in the rural seats where conservative views will always rule. and where does the majorities of the population live in the cities.
        The underlying problem is that Steve Marshall, a genuine and nice guy was not ready to take on the role of leader of the state. Give him another term and the result might be different

  • The Hammer

    I think that Steven Marshall is the one with the legitimacy problem, and the voters of SA agree with me apparently. But no matter, that will be solved in the next week or so when the rest of his party move to remove him.

  • JA R

    From the 2002 election Labor has only won the majority of two party preferred votes once. In 2002 and 2010 Liberal won. Again at this election Liberals won the two party preferred vote. The electoral boundary changes appear to be providing Labor with a huge advantage and that is not democratic. This state is in such a state that giving them the job to sort it out is like giving a glutton free reign of the banquet table. The trouble again is they are feeding from an empty table. There is nothing left to gorge on.
    It can only be hoped that Brock will not provide them with the ability to tax and levy us out of existence. All we can hope for is that we will stagger along wallowing in the debt for another 4 years and that Labor does not add to the debt – but I guess we know we will not get what we hope for after we don’t get the Government we vote for do we.
    Brock won his Frome electorate with a vote of 13,451 two party preferred, with the Liberal candidate receiving 9,440. On first preferences Brock had 10,342, Liberal 8,217 and Labor 2,598. Yet Brock handed Labor Government!!!!!!!!

    • steiner

      The entire premise of your argument is flawed. Labor received less than 50% of the 2PP, and less than 50% of the seats.
      The 2PP makes the incorrect assumption that conservative seats like Brock’s should naturally fall into the conservative column. Incorrect since there are more than just 2 parties which win seats in the lower house where government is formed. A 2PP metric is irrelevant if it excludes all parties winning seats!
      I have said it before – it’s not Labor’s problem that the Liberal Party routinely creates disaffected independents from its own ranks. It needs to look at how it goes about treating its own members before incorrectly throwing rocks at the electoral commissioner or anyone else.

      • Vanguard31

        >JA R
        Another one of these bleating arguments about tax and debt that astounds me. Do you understand that we need to pay tax, and why? Do you think it is an immoral impost on the citizens? A society that cares about ALL of its members should make the level of taxation commensurate with the needs of that society. Every time the conservatives talk of lower taxes they are also talking of lower levels of service to the community. The noose tightens on the least powerful sections whenever this happens. But the key slogans always have the most effect on the most gullible.

  • DCB

    Weatherill deserves the ‘poisoned chalice’ – ‘his company’ created it, now they have to fix it or take the blame…….and as for ‘Judas’ who has just signed on to the team!…….he will get sunburn pretty quickly!

  • billspost

    Those who say a Labor government is a ‘minority’ government and illegitimate are deluded. Labor holds the majority of seats in its own right.

  • caitsith01

    I can only assume that the critics of this outcome agree that the Greens should have 10% of the lower house seats (i.e. about 5 seats) and that neither major party should have a majority in its own right?

    That is what would happen in the actual votes cast directly translated into seats, which seems to be the ‘logic’ being applied (term used loosely). Or does this argument only apply to the Liberal Party, but not the Greens or Labor?

  • Cathy

    I predict this will be short term gain for the Labor party. Minority govt rarely works and those parties that attempt it usually pay a high price at the next election. I also find it revealing that Brock’s defence of his decision is based on providing stable government and decision making over the coming months. He clearly wasn’t dazzled by the vision for SA from either party – says a lot about Labor, the Libs and Mr Brock that such a lame, short term reason ranks ahead of policy considerations. He’s basically backing the incumbent to avoid extended caretaker mode – hardly inspirational stuff! I understand the practical side of it all – just disappointed yet again that political expediency wins out over political substance (or lack thereof from anyone!).

    • http://www.billspragg.id.au Bill Spragg

      Perhaps Brock’s decision was about policy. He was Mayor of Port Pirie prior to entering parliament and Marshall was planning to interfering with Council’s autonomous decision making power by making a populist announcement that he would cap rate rises if elected. Brock knows that Councils are not irresponsible when setting budgets and state legislation controls how rates are set. The way to reduce the rate burden is to stop cost shifting and properly fund councils for the state services they deliver.

    • George

      Of course he would have carefully considered policy. And what we get is a new government that will have a regional development focus. In the words of Tigger – “It’s gonna be great”

  • Cheated

    Ha! Have to laugh at the Libs and all their supporters. It’s not about polls and two party preferred votes. Yes ladies and gentlemen its about winning seats if you want to form a government rather than win the ‘election’. I thought the lesson was loud and clear for the Libs at the 2010 election. In the end they only have themselves to blame with their secretive campaign and no interest in social issues with Holden shutting up shop and lot of their employees voting in marginal electorates. Flying in Abbot in the final week didn’t help in that regard. I suggest next time that they actually campaign to win over swinging voters in the marginals like labor do or get some of their staunchest supporters to move from the leafy eastern suburbs into the marginals! PS I voted Lib in the safest Labor seat there is now, before election day I had no idea who the Lib candidate I voted for was.

    • Democracy the SA way

      Wipe off your saliva, Comrade! I hardly can believe you voted Liberal as you sound more like a proud product of union movement.

      • George

        as much as you sound like a product of the right wing conservative blog squad. Better luck next time.

    • Charles

      Your statement that you voted Lib is as believable as Weatherill going to balance the budget.

    • GaLuburt

      NO You Voted For Labor in Colton

  • sickofpollies

    Lets be quite clear, there wouldn’t be one statesman or woman in either Labor or Liberal. Both sides are there for the power and control and for what they can get out of it for themselves. Throw the peasants a few crumbs every now and then to keep them happy and all is well. Personally I wouldn’t step out the back door to pass the time of day with any of them. They all make grandiose promises before they get elected then they get overwhelmed by the bright lights and the nice superannuation package funded by the peasants. I think South Australians are in for a torrid time for at least the next 4 years.

    • hispania

      And maybe this is the problem. Try stepping out the back door and spending some time with them. There are many who are actually worth spending time with – they do have our best interests at heart and work long hours to achieve progress/change/social benefits etc etc.

  • wayne

    The last 8 seats counted show labour had 51%. 49% its all how you want to use the figures.

  • ian clarkson

    I hope Leesa Vlahos gets a cabinet position ,she is one of the best in the Parliament

  • Mary Gee

    The winner is not who gets the popular vote, it’s who gets the most seats and each party knew that before the election. Christopher Pyne is a “pain” – say that to rhyme with time!

  • Brenton Murdock

    Liberal have been in not even 1 Year and they have all but destroyed Australia. They are asanine.

  • stan

    I think labor should run government before this country goes under

  • stan

    The liberals said they’re going to do all these changes to the budget. They would of lost last election.

  • Jord

    The Liberals did lie about budget change plus Tony Abbott said “No new taxes” but he lied

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