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Family First enters by-election fray amid Labor backlash

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A teacher at Pembroke School is running for Family First in the Bragg by-election, as Labor insiders rail against the party’s treatment of its former candidate.

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Labor powerbrokers yesterday chose lawyer Alice Rolls to run for the Liberal-held seat of Bragg, ahead of two-time state election candidate for the longtime Liberal stronghold Rick Sarre, a retired academic.

Rolls, who lives in Unley, has been quick to cite her connection to the eastern-suburbs electorate, where she grew up after moving to Australia as a 9-year-old in 1988 from South Africa.

“Now is the right tine for me to step up and give back to the community of Bragg,” she told InDaily yesterday.

But while Sarre – who has also run for Labor in the federal seat of Sturt – said he bears “no grudges”, party insiders are fuming he has been overlooked, after the Liberals preselected a man, Jack Batty, amid a party furore over its lack of women in the lower house.

Rolls says she represents “a real alternative to the Liberal candidate”.

But one Bragg Labor insider said it was “utter bullshit that Rick didn’t get a chance to go again”.

“He’s put his hand up so many times in that seat when no one would even look twice at it – he should’ve been given a chance,” said the source, who anticipated the decision will “upset a few of the members” in the local branches, including the Dunstan sub-branch of which Sarre is president.

Rolls told InDaily: “I think Rick respects the party processes.”

“He’s a lovely guy [who’s] given much to Labor, and I know he’ll continue to do so, she said.

“He’s supportive of me.”

Rolls has emphasised her connection to the electorate by citing her schooling at the exclusive eastern suburbs school Pembroke, which her children also attend.

A teacher at the school, Daryl McCann, has been confirmed as the Family First candidate for the July 2 by-election, after winning 5 per cent of the vote in the seat at the state election.

In that poll, the party preferenced Labor, contributing to an 8 per cent swing away from then-incumbent, retiring ex-Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman.

Family First spokesman Tom Kenyon said it was too early to determine where the party would direct its preferences in the by-election, which could be crucial if Batty’s primary vote drops below 50 per cent.

Chapman garnered 53.8 per cent of the primary vote in the March poll.

McCann, who is also an author of several books and contributor to several publications, including The Australian, the ABC, the Spectator, Quadrant and the Salisbury Review, said in a video posted to Facebook he was “attracted to Family First because family is the most important thing in our lives”.

“It’s the one place we can be truly unique… it’s important we look after all aspects of the family, including family business, community and the environment,” he said.

In a blog post published in the Spectator before the state election, McCann said “Vicki [sic] Chapman is a much more powerful figure in the local Liberal party machine than the awkward and diffident Stephen [sic] Marshall.”

“It was she, as South Australia’s attorney-general, who steered through Parliament radical new laws on prostitution, euthanasia and abortion-to-birth,” he wrote.

“The formidable Chapman is also a key powerbroker of the so-called ‘moderates’ – more accurately, perhaps, ‘radicals’ – within SA’s Liberal party.”

Ironically given his own preferences, he noted “a genuine concern for many conservatives… that a vote for minor conservative parties is a vote for Labor”.

“Stephen [sic] Marshall, picking up the theme, claims that [Family First] preferencing in two northern Adelaide electorates could tip the balance in favour of the Labor candidates, although he conveniently forgets to mention that [Family First] preferencing in two adjacent electorates could have the opposite effect… Marshall also omits the fact that a voter can preference whomever they want,” he wrote at the time.

“The Marshall administration can choose to run roughshod over conservatives, though it does leave us with a conundrum: who, exactly, should we vote for if the options are: (1) a progressive Liberal candidate such as Vicki Chapman; (2) a progressive Labor candidate; or (3) a progressive Greens candidate? This, obviously, is a trick question since the answer is (4) Daryl McCann, candidate for the Family First Party.”

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