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"Big Show" Hamilton-Smith warns of "colourful" retribution

Politics

Liberal defector Martin Hamilton-Smith says it has been an “absolute joy” to serve with a Labor Government he opposed vociferously as Opposition Leader, as he warned his former colleagues he would “back up the truck and lift the tipper” if they target him politically.

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In an explosive speech to parliament late yesterday, the Trade Minister send a clear warning to the party he once led that he had stockpiled a dossier of dirt on a swag of Liberal MPs, and would be happy to make it public if they spoil for a fight.

“If, for the next two and half years leading up to the next election, you want to have the newspapers and the media full of bad Liberal news stories, keep it up, because I will respond and it will be colourful,” he told parliament.

He saved the bulk of his vitriol for his one-time running mate in a failed leadership coup, current Liberal leader Steven Marshall.

“I have a lot to say about the member for Dunstan and I have a lot to say about the leadership group opposite,” said Hamilton-Smith.

“I know the full history and I know about people’s performance, or lack thereof, so if you want to keep it up I will not only defend the point, I will be quite colourful and detailed in my explanations.”

He was responding to “a couple of (Opposition) motions that will be moved in February and March” next year, ostensibly targeting Labor’s Transforming Health platform and its push to close the Repatriation General Hospital, in Hamilton-Smith’s Waite electorate, and relocate services to Flinders.

Hamilton-Smith said the motions were “clear and obvious attempts to target me”, which would “give me an opportunity to talk about the performance of the Leader of the Opposition when he was shadow health minister”.

“I was shadow health minister for some time, I think a fairly effective one, and I handed over a very thorough brief to the member for Dunstan, who made a complete and utter mess of it during his period as shadow health minister,” he said.

“He offered nothing of substance during his entire tenure.”

Marshall told InDaily he was only in the role for three months before being elected leader unopposed, during which time he attended 65 meetings and presented a policy agenda to the Australian Medical Association.

He said Hamilton-Smith’s assertion, made under privilege, was “not even worthy of a response, to be quite honest”.

“I’m proud of my brief period in the critical health portfolio,” he said.

“I’m not going to stoop to Martin Hamilton-Smith’s level of unfounded personal smears.”

Hamilton-Smith said the Liberals lacked “policy courage” on health, and warned: “If members opposite want to get into a fight … I say, ‘Bring it on,’ because I will give back as good as I get.”

“Believe me, not only will I put up a big show, but if people want to throw a rock I will back up the truck and lift the tipper,” he said.

“It really is up to them.”

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