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Marshall vows to play a different tune on federal-state relations

Politics

Premier Steven Marshall has warned South Australians against electing Bill Shorten as Prime Minister, but says he won’t be picking “fake fights” with the Labor leader if they do so.

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Marshall has made a virtue of a newfound spirit of co-operation with Canberra after recent years of spats under former Premier Jay Weatherill’s “standing up for SA” mantra, typified by last year’s media conference hijack of now-deputy Liberal leader Josh Frydenberg.

But that spirit could be sorely tested with the Coalition’s polling taking a nose-dive in recent weeks, most notably last week’s Newspoll analysis of polling from August to October showing federal Labor leading the Liberals 58-42 in South Australia – a nine percentage point turnaround since July-August when the Coalition led the ALP 51-49 in the state.

The federal woes appear to have spilled over into polling ahead of the Victoria state election, with the Andrews Labor Government opening up a two-party preferred Newspoll lead of 54 per cent to 46, according to today’s Australian.

But, despite spending much of the past five years as Liberal leader lamenting SA’s malaise under Labor, Marshall today talked up the state’s “better quality of life under the Coalition”.

“The last five years of Coalition government have been incredible for SA,” he said.

“Let me tell you, I’ll be campaigning the entire way through to maintain the Coalition in Canberra… if we look at the fundamentals we’ve got a strong and secure economy in SA, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created, our borders are secure, defence spending is back to where it needs to be – this has been a very good outcome for the people of SA, and they should not be throwing that away lightly.”

Marshall said Shorten “would not be the right person to lead our nation”, noting the former union boss and Labor minister was “very different from a Kevin Rudd, who said we want to do things exactly the same way as John Howard was doing them”.

“Bill Shorten will be taking Australia in a completely different direction,” Marshall said.

But he insisted he would be able to work cooperatively with a Shorten-led Labor administration regardless.

“We’ve made it very clear we won’t be entertaining any of the fake fights we saw under the previous Labor Government,” he said.

“From time to time you need to stand up for your state and we will always do this, but the playbook of the former Labor government with their fake fights with Canberra didn’t actually help SA one bit.”

Marshall dismissed the polling as “interesting, but I wouldn’t be putting too much store in those numbers continuing”.

“I’m convinced Scott Morrison will be an excellent Prime Minister,” he said, highlighting a “complex set of negotiations” on GST distribution when, as Treasurer, the now-PM “did the right thing by SA”.

“Scott Morrison has been a great friend to the people of South Australia.”

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