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Rick rolled as Labor makes choice for Chapman's seat

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Defeated preselection hopeful Rick Sarre says he holds “no grudges” after Labor powerbrokers today denied him a third crack at the Liberal-held seat of Bragg, choosing lawyer Alice Rolls as their candidate for next month’s by-election.

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Rolls is the only woman thus far known to be contesting the poll, to be held on July 2, with the Liberals and Greens preselecting Jack Batty and Jim Bastiras respectively.

Two-time state election candidate for the longtime Liberal stronghold, retired academic Rick Sarre, had again raised his hand to contest the by-election for Labor, but a state executive meeting this morning gave the nod to Rolls.

In an email to party members reminiscent of Premier Peter Malinauskas’s own campaign theme, state secretary Aemon Bourke described her as “a lawyer, a Mum and a part-time farmer”.

“Alice pursued a career in law and justice, where she held senior positions in two of Australia’s largest commercial firms [Holding Redlich and LK, formerly Lipman Karas]… today, she provides a voice for the voiceless in her role as Head of Policy and Strategy at the Australian Pro Bono Centre,” he said.

Alice wants to step up for the constituents of Bragg and provide voice from within Government, as part of the Malinauskas Government team.”

Rolls told InDaily today while she lived “just outside” the electorate, in the neighbouring seat of Unley, she had “deep connections” to the area having grown up there.

“All my connections and family are there, and that’s where I’ve lived most of my life,” she said.

“I’m really excited to give the people of Bragg an opportunity to have a really outstanding candidate.”

In a bio published on Labor’s website this morning, Rolls says her family farm is her “small business… and it is reliant on the health of our environment”.

“It is why I want to be part of a government that doesn’t just talk about real action on climate change but has the policies to make change,” she said.

The Liberal Party’s only safe metropolitan seat, Bragg’s margin was nonetheless whittled down from 16.8 per cent to just 8.2 at the March poll.

But Labor insiders are privately hosing down expectations of a further big shift, particularly after prospective ex-Liberal independent Chelsey Potter yesterday iced her plan to run, instead joining a taskforce to help the Opposition explore pathways for women in politics.

Bourke told party members: “Bragg is the Liberal’s safest metropolitan seat and our expectations are realistic, but we want to ensure voters, in even the safest of Liberal seats, have a real choice in this by-election.”

Rolls said she would “give it a red hot go”.

“I really want to put forward what I stand for and what I’ve done… and hopefully convince them I’m the best person for the job,” she said.

After today’s decision, Sarre told InDaily Rolls was “a good candidate, and at some point in the future she’ll be in parliament”.

“I wish her well,” he said.

Asked if he was hard-done-by by the party after flying the flag in Bragg at the past two elections, he said: “They haven’t disparaged me.”

“A very good alternative candidate came along… they’ve said ultimately they’ve got to pick the candidate they think’s going to win – and they think she can win, and I can’t,” he said.

“Good luck to her… I hold no grudges.”

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