Liberal Leader and South Australia Premier Steven Marshall has said that he will resign his position following election defeat over the weekend once a replacement is chosen. It is not yet known who the new leader might be, but it could fall to Environment Minister David Speirs or Vincent Tarzia.
“While I am disappointed by the election outcome, I take full responsibility for the result and accept the will of the people,” said Marshall.
He will continue as the Member for Dunstan.
Marshall was the 46th Premier of South Australia, replaced by Labor Leader Peter Malinauskas who has been voted in with a majority government.
Labor’s Mark Butler described Malinauskas’ victory on ABC radio.
“Peter Malinauskas, like Anthony [Albanese], has been very busy preparing a focuses policy agenda that will look beyond the pandemic, that would look at building a better future. They’re the only two oppositions that haven’t been essentially underwater through the quarter of the pandemic and that’s in part because both were resolved to play a constructive role.”
It is not an unexpected result, with opinion polls favouring Labor during the campaign.
The Liberal government, that saw South Australia through the Covid pandemic, experienced a significant swing against it. Normally, times of crisis help a government at election, but the South Australian election is the first state election to be conducted at the end of the pandemic as restrictions are easing and people have time to reflect.
Marshall was criticised during the pandemic for the 485% increase in ambulance ramping, something that Labor’s Malinauskas has promised to fix while Marshall was promising a larger giraffe enclosure at the same time.
These strategy errors led to the Liberal Party being drowned out by an intense health campaign led by Labor.
The Deputy Premier, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, is also likely to lose his seat in Stuart, which he has held since 2010, to an Independent.
South Australia’s loss to Labor could spell trouble for the upcoming Federal Election.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has done his best to downplay the implications, despite state Liberal parties are dwindling under Covid and relentless Climate Change campaigns in schools to create a shift to the left, particularly among young voters.
“My good friend Steven Marshall did a great job as the Premier and I’m looking forward to working with the new premier,” said Scott Morrison, after the Liberal defeat.
“This election was being fought on state issues, the federal election will be fought on federal issues and what I know is Anthony Albanese is not Peter Malinauskas he’s not any of the other premiers.”
Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister, shared Morrison’s lack of concern over the outcome.
“The Australian people will make a choice that the most competent group is the coalition.”
It was a difficult battle for the Liberals from the start, with Marshall presiding over a minority government. Before 9pm on election night, Labor had enough seats to claim majority government. Some seats are still being counted, by Labor’s victory is not in doubt.
The Liberals may be concerned to see that their rural base changed, with several seats falling into Labor’s hands in what have been traditional Liberal areas.
As for Covid, arguably the biggest election issue, Marshall gave himself emergency powers like Daniel Andrews but his response fell somewhere between NSW and Victoria, leaving him unable to rally support from the Freedom-loving independents or the lockdown enthusiasts.