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Factions retain grip on SA ALP after challengers trounced

Politics

State Labor’s factions have retained their grip on party preselections after the first internal ballot to give rank and file members a greater say on parliamentary candidates.

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The ALP’s first SA preselection process to give ordinary members the same influence on the outcome as union and sub-branch delegates saw regional councillor and former state and federal candidate Ben Browne challenge for one of four winnable spots on the party’s Upper House ticket, while Tea Tree Gully councillor Brett Rankine ran against the Left-faction-endorsed Rhiannon Pearce in the northern suburbs seat of King.

The process erupted in controversy this week when party officials determined to only count any rank-and-file votes as a proportion of those eligible – a position at odds with that of Labor leader Peter Malinauskas, who drove the reforms before he entered parliament.

While the ballots are yet to be declared, unofficial figures seen by InDaily suggest both Browne and Rankine have fallen short in their bids – and significantly for the party, would have failed to win preselection on either interpretation of the new rule.

Left-aligned incumbents Kyam Maher and Ian Hunter were returned, along with the Right’s Tung Ngo while factional boss Reggie Martin, the party’s current state secretary, will enter parliament for the first time.

Martin polled strongly in the delegates and union votes, but finished fourth in the rank and file component.

Browne finished last in each category, falling 12 votes behind Martin in the rank and file ballot, 307 to 319.

It’s understood Rankine similarly failed to convince King branch members to back him, finishing with seven votes to Pearce’s 31 in the rank and file ballot.

Browne wasn’t permitted to comment on the result until it’s declared, but said the rank and file “have certainly been pleased with the engagement that’s happened”.

“It’s been a great process for the party to have MPs and potential MPs engaging with the rank and file,” he said.

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