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Ex-DPP Pallaras "might consider" running for Xenophon

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The state’s former top prosecutor, Stephen Pallaras, says he might consider a fresh foray into politics on Nick Xenophon’s ticket, but the South Australian senator has played down the prospect in the short term.

InDaily can reveal Xenophon and Pallaras met this week to discuss “a range of issues”, which included the senator picking the former Director of Public Prosecutions’ brains on points of law.

They also “talked generally about politics”, Xenophon confirmed.

“I told him what campaigns were like and how tough it was, but it wasn’t about him running for me,” he said.

“It was a broad discussion … he was just interested in talking about politics.

“I’ll be meeting with him again.”

Pallaras’s name has been at the centre of political scuttlebutt surrounding the seat of Sturt, where long-time Liberal incumbent Christopher Pyne is yet to find out who he will face at next year’s federal election.

InDaily reported yesterday that retail lawyer Jo Chapley, who gave Steven Marshall a scare in Dunstan at last year’s state poll, is giving “serious consideration” to nominating for Labor, while Xenophon has indicated he could field candidates in all 11 SA seats, including the five held by Labor.

Pallaras denies discussing Sturt with Xenophon or an interest in running in the seat.

But asked whether he would be generally interested in standing as an independent or on a Xenophon ticket, he said: “At the moment, given my time off from work, I’m quite happy to continue that, but it’s one of the many possibilities I might consider in the future.”

Asked if he could rule out anointing Pallaras as a candidate, Xenophon said the question was “not on the agenda”.

“It’s not on the radar,” he said.

“With his experience and expertise as a public prosecutor, I think Stephen Pallaras has a lot to offer in terms of public policy, but I’ve got a shortlist of people we’ve been working on for months (so) we’re well advanced on the path.”

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon

South Australian senator Nick Xenophon

The Advertiser reported in April that Liberal defector Martin Hamilton-Smith tried to recruit Pallaras as a Legislative Council candidate and prospective Attorney-General, but the idea did not win support from his then-colleagues. Hamilton-Smith subsequently quit the party post-election to join the Weatherill Government.

Premier Jay Weatherill last night predicted the combination of a Xenophon ticket and ongoing uncertainty about the multi-billion dollar Future Submarines – which the Coalition pledged pre-election would be locally built – would result in “carnage for Liberals in South Australia”.

“And I think they know it,” he told ABC’s Lateline.

“If they don’t get this (subs) decision right, the people of South Australia will respond, I think, very assertively at the ballot box.”

He said the Liberals’ MP for the marginal seat of Hindmarsh, Matt Williams, “would be gone at about half past six” on election night if the Government reneged on its commitment to SA.

“And the waves will be lapping up against the front doorstep of Jamie Briggs and certainly Christopher Pyne,” he said.

Weatherill described Xenophon as “an opportunist”.

“He outflanks us on the left and the right depending on where the opportunity presents itself,” he said.

Xenophon has been playing his cards very close to his chest on the identity of potential candidates. It’s understood he is committed to a rigorous selection process, still smarting from his one-time running mate Ann Bressington’s public attacks on him after he quit State Parliament for a Senate tilt in 2007.

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