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Campaign diary: the good, the bad and the ugly


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Jay Weatherill put his six-gun back in the holster Sunday morning, with another notch on his belt.

In the space of four years, the sharp-shooter of South Australian politics had taken down some of the fastest guns in the south.

In 2010 he mortally wounded Kevin Foley with a withering burst of gunfire that lambasted the Rann/Foley style of announce-and-defend government.

Foley didn’t stand a chance and when the deputy was gunned down, Sheriff Rann looked vulnerable.

But before he could take down the Sheriff, Weatherill had to deal with some other aspiring gunslingers, John Rau and Jack Snelling.

John and Jack were sorted out in the corner of a barn and would soon find themselves riding in the Weatherill gang.

Weatherill’s new boys – Snelling and fellow Right rider Peter Malinauskas – shot down Mike Rann in an ambush the incumbent Premier of almost 10 years didn’t see coming.

Jay’s gang was now was running the town, but business wasn’t doing so well and the locals were getting restless.

They came gunning for him, just as he had come for Rann and Foley.

One of the fastest guns around, Don Farrell, came back from the east; and just as it looked like Jay had no bullets left in the chamber, he shot Farrell dead in the main street.

The bold shoot-out impressed the townsfolk.

But there was one more sharp-shooter in town – Liberal leader Steven Marshall.

He had guns, ammunition and the local newspaper on his side.

Jay Weatherill set himself for a  stealth attack.

He poisoned the water in Elder, circled the wagons around the marginals and set up a massive confrontation at the OK Corral.

One of the key locals, Bob Such, was meant to be packing heat for Marshall, but he didn’t front.

One man short, the Marshall gang walked tentatively down the street, looking for a showdown; Weatherill, meanwhile, was in the Brock Saloon.

And when Marshall wasn’t looking, a solitary shot rang out.

It was fired by Brock, after Weatherill had loaded the gun.

Jay was still the fastest and smartest gun in the south.

The townsfolk  went back into their homes and life went on – as though nothing had happened.

This is the final Campaign Diary column – until 2018.

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