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Warning signs for Labor as Bedford targets Snelling's home turf


Former Labor maverick Frances Bedford has given the strongest indication yet that she intends to contest the March 2018 state election as an independent, holding a series of public ‘meet and greets’ in Health Minister Jack Snelling’s seat of Playford.

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Bedford quit the ALP in March after the party’s dominant Right faction orchestrated a deal that saw Snelling preselected in her seat of Florey, which had subsumed a significant chunk of his current seat of Playford in an electoral boundary redistribution.

Bedford is a left-winger from the now defunct Duncan Left, but was not a part of the PLUS (Progressive Left Union and Sub-Branches) faction that, with the Right’s Labor Unity, holds sway in the party.

She has been coy about her intentions for the election, but eyebrows have been raised by flyers distributed throughout parts of Snelling’s ‘old’ seat of Playford that will shift to Florey in the boundary redraw, promoting a chance to “Meet Frances Bedford, State MP”.

One of the flyers being distributed this week.

Street corner meetings will be held tomorrow in Northfield, which was not part of Bedford’s electorate at the last election, and Snelling’s home suburb of Ingle Farm, the heart of his current seat.

But Bedford told InDaily: “I don’t think you should read anything into it.”

“I always said I wanted to get around the whole electorate and see how people are feeling [before I made a decision], so I’m just seeing how people are feeling,” she said.

“It would be really remiss of someone to announce they’re running in the seat without spending a bit of time speaking to the local people.”

She said the fact she was electioneering in areas she does not currently serve as an MP was not necessarily unusual, because she had “always basically worked the entire electorate of Makin”, the federal seat in which she worked as an electorate officer for former frontbencher Peter Duncan.

She said she would be distributing copies of an Australian Products Shopping Guide produced by her electorate office each year to advise constituents about local brands.

“Unfortunately we keep making it smaller,” she added.

The prospect of Bedford’s candidacy has Labor rattled. It’s understood there have already been discussions about pouring extra resources into Snelling’s Florey campaign in the event the incumbent opts to stand.

The party is gearing up to treat the seat as a marginal, despite the re-draw shifting its margin from under 3 per cent to a nominally safe 9.2 per cent.

“I think she’s testing the water,” said one insider.

Snelling declined to comment.

Bedford’s fellow crossbencher, former Liberal Duncan McFetridge, has already confirmed he will run again in his seat of Morphett, where he lost preselection earlier this year prompting him to quit the party.



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